Getting A Yes (Instead of Avoiding A No) – The Standard of Enthusiastic Consent

The topic of rape culture and what it means to give consent has been coming up in conversations online and off lately. The discussion regarding whether a sex scene in HBO’s Girls depicted rape, sexual assault or just bad sex helped bring the topic to the forefront of the Internet. Meanwhile, conviction of two of the suspects in the Stubenville rapes fired up the conversation again when the defense’s primary argument was that the boys “didn’t receive a definite no” from a girl who was so intoxicated that she literally couldn’t stand upright and was being carried around like a side of beef.

In the aftermath of the guilty verdict, several people observed that many of the teens at the party didn’t realize that this was rape. To them, the fact that the victim was unconscious didn’t mean anything. “I didn’t know this was rape,” said one witness. “It wasn’t violent.” It wasn’t a stranger leaping out of the shadows, knife in hand to drag her into a dank back alley. It was just some guys and a girl who was too drunk to say “no”.

No jokes to be had here. Sorry.

The idea of just avoiding a “no” is a distressingly common one. The emphasis on consent is often the idea of “No”. “No means no” we are taught, that when a woman says “stop”, we stop. That’s good. That’s incredibly important.

But sometimes it’s not enough to just not get a no. You need more.

It’s not just about not getting a “no”. It’s about getting a definitive “yes”.

A Question Of Consent

The emphasis on avoiding “no” can sometimes make the discussion surrounding the idea of consent seem needlessly complicated.

In Girls, Adam (played by Adam Driver) and his new girlfriend Natalia (Shiri Appleby) start off having sex… and it’s not pleasant. After having agreed to  Natalia’s preferences – no soft (ticklish) touching, no ejaculating inside her – things take a darker turn. Their first time having sex – where Adam even says “I like how clear you are with me” –  was enjoyable. The next time… not so much. Adam demands that she crawl on her hands and knees across his filthy floor, ignores her protests that she hasn’t showered as he goes down on her and pays no attention to her half-hearted participation. At the end, he pulls out and starts masturbating, aiming for a porn-style money shot. At the last minute he listens to her numb protests to not ejaculate on her dress and cums on her chest instead. “I, like, really didn’t like that,” says Natalia afterwards.

It’s profoundly uncomfortable – intentionally so – and is designed to bring up many questions. Did she consent? Did saying “wait, I didn’t take a shower” count as a “no”? Was Adam supposed to understand that Natalia was trying to refuse without upsetting him, or is it completely understandable to assume that her complaint was her worrying about his discomfort at her lack of cleanliness? When she’s only half-heartedly participating in his demands – that she really likes him, how he looks and his apartment – should he have taken that as a sign to stop? Would it be reasonable to assume that she was still consenting?

For someone who liked clarity, shit got murky really fast… and left people wondering what the hell they just watched.

"So, um... I kinda feel like I need to watch a Disney movie now..."

“So, um… I kinda feel like I need to watch a Disney movie now…”

All too often, when the subject of consent focuses on “no means no”, you inevitably find people who will insist that the concept is muddled and confusing. When we say that “no means no” and someone doesn’t give a definitive no, what does that mean?

In many ways, the focus on “no” puts the burden – yet again – on women to rein in the libidos of men who presumably can’t control themselves… and in many ways can put them at a disadvantage. Women are often socialized to be non-direct for fear of causing offense; many women are frequently uncomfortable with being up front with saying “No, I don’t want this.” In the case of Girls, Natalia protests to Adam that she hasn’t taken a shower; she’s trying to give him the wave-off as he pulls her underwear down but he either misses her meaning or possibly ignores it deliberately.

Alcohol also has a way of making a definitive “no” hard to recognize. While booze doesn’t create emotions – a person who doesn’t like somebody isn’t going to magically going to fall in love because he or she has had one too many cocktails – it does lower one’s capacity for rational thought and decision making. A person may not want to have sex with someone, but enough booze will can make them more likely to give in to pressure or to otherwise make poor decisions.

A focus on “no” also causes many people – mostly men – to worry about misreading signals. Others will incessantly challenge the idea of rape and rape culture by trying to rules-lawyer consent1 with an endless repetition of theoretical situations and “what ifs” in order to “prove” that consent is confusing and difficult to acquire. “Is it rape if she passes out while we’re having sex she consented to? What if she gets off on being roofied? What if she forgot the safeword?”

You can what-if and “is it rape if” until the cows come home. When you switch to the idea of affirmative or enthusiastic consent – focusing on getting an unambiguous “YES” instead of stopping at “no” – it changes the equation entirely.

“Yes Means Yes”

Enthusiastic consent is fairly simple. It’s the idea that while “no means no” is important, getting a “yes” is even more important.

Hope I didn’t just blow your mind there.

More seriously: think about it. The idea of enthusiastic consent is all about making sure that your partner is genuinely into having sex… that you are getting clear and unambiguous signals that he or she wants to fuck. It’s the difference between “Dear God I want to fuck you right now” and “Yeah… I guess, whatever” when they really mean “no”. Similarly, a partner who is simply not resisting but otherwise not saying anything is not giving enthusiastic consent. It’s about more than just needing to get off – because that’s easy enough to do on your own – but having an experience with your partner. It makes sex about the two (or more…) of you rather than one person using the other as a sex toy that can occasionally help move boxes and dust the window sills.

Not that this doesn't have it's appeal...

Not that this doesn’t have its appeal…

The focus on an unambiguous yes (or a “give me your cock” or “I want you to eat me out right the fuck now”… you get the idea) cuts out any murkiness around the idea of whether somebody is consenting. It’s hard to mistake a “please fuck me”, after all. It simplifies the issue rather nicely. Didn’t get a “Yes”? You don’t have sex. End of.

That “enthusiastic” part is important, too, because it comes with the understanding that consent isn’t a binary decision – it’s not all or nothing, always on or always off. It’s an understanding that consent falls on a sliding scale and can be dialed back or forward as both partners feel the need. Just because somebody said “yes” earlier doesn’t mean that they couldn’t change their mind later on… even in the middle of things, if it comes to it. If one partner or the other indicates that they’re no longer in the mood or that they don’t like what’s happening – such as Natalia’s lackluster, limp agreement to Adam’s requests – the sex stops. 

Thing is though: this doesn’t necessarily mean that things are over. A person can decide that he or she is no longer willing to have penetrative sex… but is perfectly happy (again: enthusiastic, not just offering to keep the other person from getting angry or upset) to have oral sex, or give a handjob or just cuddle for a while. The important part, though, is what it says: that you respect and are invested enough in your partner – even if it’s a one-night stand – that you want their full and eager participation. It’s an expression of the collaborative model of sex, the idea of sex as a jam session between two people who want to have fun together, rather than the adversarial model that encourages men to get what they want as cheaply as possible.

This approach encourages active communication with your partner, something that I believe to be required for really good sex. You have to be willing to talk about what you want and what you don’t want before and even during sex, establishing important boundaries. It mandates that you’re paying attention to your partner’s pleasure as much as you are to your own and being sensitive to their level of participation and involvement. It means that you can’t just take consent for granted – even if your potential partner has been giving every possible signal that the two of you are going to have sex – they still have to assent in the affirmative rather than one person assuming that it’s fait accompli and risking making a huge mistake.

The Difference Between “…yes” and “YES!”

I want to put a special note on the word enthusiastic because, frankly, not every “yes” is equal. In fact, there are many times when “yes” still means no.

I’ve seen many discussions on the ways of turning a “no” into a “yes”. Some people are known for suggesting that a woman’s first couple of “no’s” don’t count, or that phrases like “We’re not having sex tonight” is meant to be a shit-test, a “can you change my mind?” challenge rather than an explicit statement that she does not intend or want to have sex with you tonight. Some will talk about making it about what she “owes”  him – he bought dinner /rented the movie /paid for the plane tickets and now she’s required to pay him back with sex. Others will rely on guilt – “I guess I thought you really loved me…” or emotional threats like “If you don’t, I’ll find someone who will“.

In PUA circles, you will find discussion about handling “no” in jargonistic terms like “Anti-Slut Defense”2 or “Last Minute Resistance”  (LMR for short). The tactics involved in “handling” LMR or breaking through her “Anti-Slut Defense” can vary from ignoring her first signs of refusal to utilizing social pressure to coerce a women into sex via freezing her out. The freeze-out involves withdrawing all positive attention – essentially giving her the silent treatment – until she feels the pressure to reinitiate sexual contact. It plays directly on the social contract and the way that women are trained to interact with men, as well as our instinctive need for social approval. It plays on a person’s complexes and insecurities, making them want to reconnect with those good feelings and leave her believing that it’s her fault for all of it going away.

Sound a little ridiculous? Imagine if you will, that you’re hanging out with someone you care about; everything’s happy, you’re having fun. You’re having incredible conversations, the kind where you feel like you’re communicating on the deepest levels… and then you do something innocuous and it all turns off like a light. Now all that warmth has gone. You’re getting short, curt, single syllable answers, they refuse to look at you. They insist that nothing’s wrong, but everything about the way they’re acting screams that they’re pissed at you… and implies that it’s all your fault.

If you’re at all emotionally invested in this person, you’re going to feel confused. You’re going to feel upset and a little anxious and want to make things better. You’re much more likely to try to do whatever it takes to melt that ice that’s suddenly developed between you.

Now imagine that applied to sex.

I want to be clear: this sort of “yes”, a “yes” gained through coercive methods does not count. This runs counter to the entire idea of affirmative, enthusiastic consent. It’s not a true, enthusiastic “yes”, it’s just a way of manipulating someone so that – once again – you’re just avoiding a “no”.

Similarly, a “yes” under the influence of alcohol is not the same. A “yes” after a night of drinking could be that he or she really wants to bone… or it could be they don’t but would be more likely to give in or have sex anyway even though they don’t really want to. Like I said earlier: booze doesn’t make emotions appear from nowhere, it just lowers inhibitions and impairs decision making. Someone who really wants to have sex with you while drunk will still want to have sex with you later.  Someone who doesn’t want to but will anyway is someone you shouldn’t be having sex with in the first place.

Rule of thumb: too drunk to drive is too drunk to consent. You can wait until he or she is sober.

Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!

Having just put the emphasis on enthusiasm, I want to make a point or two that inevitably arises whenever the subject of enthusiastic consent comes up. One frequent issue in relationships – especially long term relationships – is the idea of sex when one or the other partner isn’t terribly in the mood but is willing to go for it anyway. Passion does fade; when the relationship is still in the honeymoon phase, you frequently can’t breathe without both of you wanting to bang right then and there, but as time passes, there will be plenty of occasions when one’s libido isn’t 100% in tune with one’s partner. Many a person will frequently have sex – or some form of sexual contact – when he or she isn’t absolutely in the mood and their partner is.

Some will question whether this does or does not meet the level of “enthusiastic consent”. In the strictest definition: no, not really. But in a long-term relationship, one presumably, hopefully has lines of communication wide open. People in a long-term relationship will often have long established occasions where consent can be assumed and the understanding that there will be times that they are willing to be giving for the sake of the person whom they love and want to be happy… even if they’d rather be catching up on Game of Thrones and Facebook. As long as they are able to talk about what they are and aren’t willing to do, establish boundaries, and  aren’t pressuring one another to act in a way they aren’t comfortable with, or engage in acts that they would rather not perform, I’d say that this is fine.

And occasionally a little bribery encourages the helping hand...job.

And occasionally a little bribery encourages the helping hand…job.

Communication is always key. Consent is not just about what you aren’t willing to do, it’s about being willing to talk, to communicate openly and without reservation with your partner about how they feel and how you feel. It can be intimidating, especially for guys, to take ownership of their feelings about sex, especially if they don’t want to have it. Many men feel that they have to have sex, even when they’re not comfortable with it, because they’re men and that’s what men do so they have to suck it up. There will be times that men will feel pressured, even coerced, just as women do. There have been times where I’ve felt pressured into sex that I didn’t want, yet went ahead and had anyway… at the time I didn’t feel that I could communicate with my then-girlfriend and just went along with what she wanted in order to avoid the fight that would have occurred otherwise. And I know I’m not the only man who’s had experiences like this.

Being able to communicate with one’s partner, to know that one’s limits and wants will be respected, is key to enthusiastic consent.

The Benefits of Enthusiastic Consent

Part of rape culture is a culture that makes excuses for – even tacitly approves of rape. It’s a culture in which the victim is blamed for his or her own assault because “she got drunk” or “she should have known better” or “she didn’t say ‘no’ clearly enough”. It’s a culture in which consent is thought to be a tricky thing, and in which people complain of “mixed messages” and flirting, acting in a sexual manner, dressing provocatively or even having a drink is often portrayed as tacit consent. 

It’s a culture where gender roles are strictly defined; men are the hypermasculine aggressors who are expected to be insatiable and perpetually aroused while women are valued only for how much sex they haven’t had yet and how dearly they parcel it out. It’s a culture wherein men aren’t allowed to have doubts or uncertainties about sex or even moments where they don’t want to have it; men who are less than insatiable are “pussies”. Meanwhile women are scorned for taking ownership of their sexuality, devalued or insulted for not restricting access to sex; in rape culture, one’s sexual history makes the difference between a victim and someone who was “asking for it”, who in effect deserved to be raped because she didn’t guard it strongly enough.

Enthusiastic, affirmative consent helps strip this away. It removes the excuses that rapists and rape apologists hide behind. It doesn’t matter that she was drunk or being flirty or even gave some guy a lap-dance at a bar because consent is about saying an explicit “Yes, I want you to fuck me” not about whether she’s a cocktease or made him think that she was OK with it without saying the words. It transforms sex from the gatekeeper model where men try to bribe or bargain with women in order to get off, to one of explict partnership, where sex isn’t about transaction but collaboration and building something amazing together. It helps create a culture of understanding and – more importantly – safety, where women can feel fewer restrictions on their own sexual expression and are freer to enjoy the sex they want, too.

It’s about open communication with your partner, learning how to express how you feel, checking in with them about their pleasure and being a better, more attentive lover.

But more importantly, it’s hot.

Enthusiastic consent isn’t about a call and response for every step of the way; it’s not “may I touch you here? May I kiss you now? May I undo your bra?” It’s about dirty talk; grabbing your lover by the back of the head and growling “I want you inside me now.” It’s about saying all the nasty, dirty things you want to do to them and hearing “Oh GOD yes…”. It’s hearing “Yes, like that” or “Here, touch me here!”

There aren’t mixed messages when it comes to enthusiastic consent. In a world where an explicit, enthusiastic “yes” is the threshold of consent, you know damn good and well that your partner is really excited to be having sex with you.

"Oh man, you have no idea..."

“Oh man, you have no idea…”

And really, isn’t that what we all want?

 

  1. Hat tip to Amanda Marcotte for that phrase, by the way []
  2. That is, that she’s afraid of being seen as a slut by her friends and thus is hesitating in order to build up plausible deniability []

Comments

  1. Fantastic post doc, I really love this "enthusiastic yes" consent model as opposed to the older one. I mean to me – there is nothing that turns me on more than knowing that the other side is REALLY into me :-)

    Plus, I would also like to add that body language also transmits quite a bit of information all on its own – from my experience, when you are kissing someone, it is enough to know how much the other side is into it and if he is giving you an "enthusiastic yes" through his body or something that feels like a "whatever… I guess" kind of signal. I will emphasize that this is just an add-on to vocal, unequivocal consent communication, not instead of it.

    • I just want to add that feminists do not. contrary to popular belief, think that non-verbal enthusiastic consent does not count. As you note here, people can tell the difference between someone who is fucking you back and someone who is laying there, waiting for it to be over. Pretending otherwise, as many anti-feminists do, is dishonest.

      • I just wanted to add that because I said this doesn't mean I want to downplay the importance of verbal communication. If there's even a whiff of doubt, open your mouth and ask. You should be articulating what you're doing and asking a lot even if you are sure. Why? Not only is it hot, but learning to talk about sex when you're on firmer ground makes it easier, down the road, to ask for stuff that's a little bit more adventurous. People who talk a lot in bed tend to experiment more, because asking for what they want and checking in with their partner becomes second nature.

      • I've met plenty of feminists who actually do insist on the Antioch model of consent. Also known as the "Can I touch you here? Can I touch you there?" model. It's a bit absurd to insist that someone stop and ask every time they want to move their hand a few inches.

        If you're making out with someone and you want to do something that substantially escalates the intimacy, then yeah, stop and ask first. But stopping to ask for every single, tiny, incremental change is asinine. You'd be stopping to ask every few seconds.

        • eselle28 says:

          I don't think that's a very sexy model, either. However, that's a relative minority of anyone's potential sex partners, and it's something that someone who believes in it is likely to clarify quite quickly. If you're not up for that, it's probably best that both of you date other people.

          • I think asking verbally before you cross a major line is important, but it's a question of degree.

            Making out, especially, is an intuitive activity. Things tend to flow naturally. I think it's important to draw a distinction between substantial escalations and incremental escalations. Kissing someone on the lips, and then moving to kiss their neck is an incremental change. It would be ridiculous to ask first. If they don't like you kissing their neck, you'll know it (probably before you even get there), and you stop. No real harm done. Kissing someone on the lips, and then shoving your hand down the front of their pants, on the other hand, is a substantial change. You should definitely stop and ask first. If they don't like it, you'll still know it, but the damage is already done even if you stop at the first sign of objection. You've still assaulted them.

            Does that sound arbitrary? Maybe a little, but there has to be some middle ground in between: "Consent to 1st base is consent to everything" AND "You have to stop and ask in between kisses."

    • I also wanted to add that having sex with a girl that is giving you this kind of "whatever" consent – should feel like she's "doing you a favor" so to speak. Frankly, this kind of sounds insulting to the receiver too – I would pass that kind of consent any day of the week, for, um, oh I don't know – STEAMY HOT "please do me now" consent sex.

  2. Doc, the convicted Steubenville rapists aren't suspects anymore. They're rapists and sex offenders – confirmed, not suspected or accused. There are other parties involved that are still only suspects and may be charged, but Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond? Rapists.

    • This also got really light sentences even by juvenile standards for their crimes.

    • "Conviction of the two suspects" is pretty clear. The way the sentence is structured, it's about the conviction leading to the current conversation, not a question about their guilt. Grammatically speaking, you can't convict convicts. You convict "suspects" or "defendants."

      • Technically, if we're rules-lawyering this, you convict the accused or you convict defendants; that's more correct and descriptive. And there is nothing grammatically wrong with "conviction of two of the rapists in the Stubenville rapes" or "conviction of two of the sex offenders in the Stubenville rapes", because anyone who raped the Stubenville victim are rapists and sex offenders.

        Going beyond the rules-lawyering, there is a serious problem in the language of how we talk about rapists and sex offenders. Language is not all about rules made up by stuffy old white dudes. Language is about culture and society. Our current culture surrounding sexual assaults and rapes is what led to the CNN bullshit, so I would really appreciate it if the Doc made a conscious effort to not do the normal pattern of divorcing and putting lingual distance between the rapists with their crime. Even if he didn't mean anything by it, helping to break the pattern is important.

  3. Gentleman Horndog says:

    Hell, I came to this conclusion years before I ever heard a name for it. Once you've been with somebody who, in that moment, wants nothing more than to fuck your brains out, "Yeah, sure, I guess" sex feels like a bad imitation of the real thing.

    Like Doc said, this can be a bit tricky to navigate in a long-term relationship. If you care about your partner, there are times when you'll want to round a "Maybe" up to "Yes" just to do something nice for them. But I've had the discussion with my girlfriend that if she's just plain not feeling it, I'd much rather she tell me "No" than "Take one for the team." I've found that getting myself into a headspace where quality is just as important as quantity (as opposed to "MUST HAVE AS MUCH SEX AS POSSIBLE!!!", which can lead you to some dark places in a hurry) has made my sex life much more satisfying.

    It cannot be said enough: if you just want to get off, you don't need a partner, just a bit of privacy.

    • Love this attitude and I LOVE your username, lol. In a long term relationship and especially when you live together, realizing quality over quantity is so important to a happy partnership. Nothing is worse than feeling obligated after a long day because your partner thinks "every day" is reasonable and expected.

      • Gentleman Horndog says:

        To be fair, "reasonable and expected" is an equilibrium each couple has to figure out for themselves. Depending on who you are or where your relationship is, "every day" may be exactly right for the two of you.

        But yeah, obligation sex sucks. If sex is a chore, you're doing it wrong.

  4. Just wanted to say a quick thank you Doc for this post. I think this kind of thing needs to be included in sex ed classes so people know from an early age. Most sex ed seems to be about disease and not getting pregnant- whilst these things are vital, educators should talk about the emotional side of sex more, like when you know youre ready, consent, love etc.

    • Yes! I couldn't agree more! I plan to talk to my kids about this stuff, but every kid should be hearing it from their parents, school, TV, movies, etc. Too bad we live in a puritanical society where we can't discuss these things open and honestly with our children, before they enter situations where this knowledge would be helpful!

  5. THIS. SO MUCH THIS. I was already expressing enthusiasm (haha, see what I did there?) before you even wrote this article, but now that I've read it now I want to go around pointing at this article anytime anyone anywhere starts trying to rules-lawyer their way into sex.

    I haven't been raped. But I have definitely been coerced, I have definitely had my half-hearted attempts to slow down overridden, I have definitely had to say no again and again to people who took it as permission to keep trying to change my mind. I am so goddamn tired of feeling like the guilty party, like the bad guy, like the shrewish girlfriend for putting an end to the sexyfuntimes because, fuck, my vagina really hurt or I wasn't in the mood or I just wanted to go to sleep. I have had some wonderful partners who were otherwise receptive to my needs, but I have still yet to meet the partner who didn't try to keep going at least once.

    Well, it ends now. No more just "submitting" to sex. No more feeling guilty or making up for some imaginary guilt in the past. There is not going to be any sex until I am 100% into it.

  6. Anybody care for a wager on what obnoxious bouts of self-pity we will here on this thread?

    • I was expecting there to be at least one already–impressed to see there's not! ;)

      • Its early, give it time. Either that or the usual suspects are acting with uncharacteristic restraint.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      We have a winner! "But enthusiastic consent is SO CONFUSING!"
      with a side of "its not rape if its not reported."

    • BritterSweet says:

      It's been a few hours, aaaand…

      Yup. Scroll down and there it is. Ugh.

    • I particularly enjoy "women never actually communicate about sex so this is impossible", wow that's special.

  7. Doc, thank you for bringing up that sometimes "enthusiastic consent" isn't always enthusiastic in and of itself. I'm in an LTR and sometimes I'm just not in the mood, but want to please my partner and make sure he's happy. I wish there was a compact way to say "I'm not that into it, but am making this decision freely so it's a mental enthusiasm even if it isn't an emotional enthusiasm"-consent. Enthusiastic consent doesn't have to mean you're 100%-so-horny-a-stiff-breeze-could-get-me-off into it.

    • Gentleman Horndog says:

      Integrating quickies into repertoire as a couple is a good way to share some physical intimacy when you is feeling low-energy but still wants to do for the other. You can also look for low energy sex alternatives to show you still care even when you're "Meh" about actual sex. "I'm not up for a fuck; can I snuggle and kiss you while you masturbate?"

      • Yeah, being the "wank-off" material for your partner while they masturbate is a really easy compromise for when your libidos are mismatched.

  8. Sorta relevant: http://pervocracy.blogspot.nl/2012/05/real-consen

    Also anticipating reactions of "but she/he clearly wanted it at the moment" when the examples hit too close to home. Everyone can see the difference between tipsy and too sloshed, betwee nervous and uncomfortable and between likes-to-be-taken and lays-back-and-thinks-of-England. There is no gray consent, there is no plausible deniability and there is no mind-changing after it has already happened in order to save a reputation. The red herring of coddling or patronizing the shy with this model misreads enthusiastic consent as a caricature of itself.

  9. Why do I get the feeling it's the argument of a "real man wouldn't . . ." is preaching to the choir? Any guy nodding his head reading that article isn't the sort of guy who would ever get into such a dubious encounter anyway?

    On a similar topic, I wondering what the feminists here think of "rape by fraud/deception" or that date-rape only covers when a woman is involuntarily intoxicated (as opposed to a voluntarily drunken woman might technically consent but wouldn't have if she was sober)?

    • Formerly Guesst says:

      Drunken consent is not consent, regardless of why/how someone got drunk. The rape laws in my state actually codify this: it's not legal consent if you're drunk.

      • Gentleman Horndog says:

        I'd submit that if it's an established sexual relationship and "Let's get drunk and screw" is a deliberate agreed-upon part of your repertoire, you're ethically in the clear. But I have a personal rule that there shall be no drunk fucking until there has been sober fucking. (With "drunk" meaning "Would I try to stop her if she were about to drive home?") It's not a rule I've regretted having.

      • The law only covers women when they were involuntarily intoxicated.

        • Not in my country, bucko. From the Medical University of South Carolina's reports on rape in the fifty states, they provide this handy bullet:

          "Legal statutes in many states as well as at the federal level also prohibit rapes which occur
          when a perpetrator engages in a sex act with an unwilling victim who is unconscious or who is
          intoxicated with alcohol or drugs to the point that their ability to appraise or control their
          conduct is substantially impaired. The Federal Criminal Code defines this type of rape as
          aggravated sexual abuse by other means. Sometimes it is referred to as drug or alcohol
          facilitated rape."

          • That means as in "she passed out or nearly so". If a woman is drunk and consents in a way that she wouldn't do while sober then it's not a criminal offense. If you sign a mortgage while drunk but not babbling incoherently so then the bank won't tear up the contract when you sober up. In other words, I'm talking of a woman who is willing and drunk under her own will.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Hey man, don't tell it to me. Tell it to the jury. They're the ones who really get to make that call.

          • As the law reads, it isn't a criminal offense at that point. You're right. It's still immoral, though. You still shouldn't do it. I'm an LSW and am being reminded of the work I've done with clients who want to get a restraining order against somebody who is being a major asshole but who isn't explicitly threatening or meeting the definition of illegal harassment. I have to tell them "I'm sorry but it's completely legal to be a terrible human being." And then they chuckle that sad unfunny chuckle and we have to work on safety planning and what they can do. It sucks and I wish things could be different, but that's the law right now.

            And it's the same with your example. It is (unfortunately) legal to go home with a drunk girl. But you're a terrible person if you do it.

    • eselle28 says:

      There are a lot of people reading this who may never have thought about the issue, or who may be new enough to relationships to still be forming their thoughts on the issue. And I think these situations happen frequently enough that almost everyone will encounter one at some point over a lifetime, whether it be a very drunk friend at a party or a spouse who sighs and says,"Oh, all right already, just stop nagging about it."

      I think that legal restrictions related to consent are actually a different, and fairly distracting, topic. The whole point of this is having sex in a way that doesn't get anywhere near crossing the lines between what's legal and what will get you arrested.

    • The really hardcore misogynists have probably written the Doc off already, but I see this article as being the most useful for the people who are generally well-meaning, but have been steeped in rape culture so they hold problematic attitudes despite being generally not evil people. I see it especially useful for any of the nerds who have bought into the PUA nonsense out of desperation.

      In previous arguments about consent with clueless, casually sexist nerds, the biggest sense that I get is that they really, really, really want sex. They're usually young, may be virgins, or are generally without ladyfriends or sex. The Doc's target audience, in other words. The problem with being horny and desperate is that anything at all that tells you that you're gonna have to wait, that now is not the right time, that sex is not happening right now, you immediately start searching for ways to explain it away or change it or reach for any reason why you should be given sex anyway. Like, you're starving and there's a plate of food within reach and then some stern Food Nazi comes in and takes the plate away while spouting lectures at you. (I am not endorsing this view of sex/feminism. I am making an analogy regarding the mindset of someone desperate for sex.) When you're desperate, you rationalize. You rationalize everything, even up to the point of pressuring/coercing somebody and rationalizing that it wasn't rape.

      This article about enthusiastic consent is about explaining to those horny, desperate nerds that the "plate of food" is actually a walking, talking human being with personal safety and privacy rights. And it short-circuits the rules-lawyering and rationalizing and basically says, "It doesn't matter how desperate you are. Sex is not something you can force from somebody else."

      • thebutterfly says:

        Despite popular stereotype I am rather unconvinced that desperate but otherwise well-meaning nerds make up even a tiny minority of rapists. The evidence does not bear this out.

        That does not, of course, mean they do not engage in other problematic behaviours.

        • eselle28 says:

          There are rapists who know perfectly well what they're doing and who don't care. There are also people who have some unhealthy attitudes about sex and a go for it at all costs attitude, who would be horrified at being labeled rapists but who have violated other people's boundaries because they want a "yes" so badly that only a "no, stop raping me!" will be processed as a refusal.

          As far as I can tell, the ratio of nerds in either of these groups is about as same as in the general population. All you need to do is talk to some nerds about their relationships to learn that dating a fellow nerd is by no means a guarantee that you'll end up with a safe, non-abusive partner.

          So why not speak to nerds about this, at least the ones who are in the second category and who might be open to listening? The fact that other groups are also negatively impacted by rape culture doesn't mean that geeks should sit on their hands until everyone else has taken action.

        • A study of men at a university showed that men would not admit to being rapists, but they would admit to engaging in activities that would qualify as sexual assault…as long as the question never used the word "rape."

          These are the powers of rationalization at work.

    • Preaching to the choir is a good thing. Knowing that there are other men out there that support the idea of a consenting woman will give the men that read this article more confidence to push back against the out dated ideas being perpetuated by their peers.

      • Preaching to the choir is usually a bad thing. Date-rapists aren't going to read this. If DNL were to write an article about "Real Men Don't Beat Women" then he should email it to men like Chris Brown and if DNL were to write an article "Real Women Don't Stay With Abusive Men Let Alone Get Back Together With Them" then he should email it to women like Rihanna.

        • Really? Then only missionaries are doing it right? All those sheep going to religious services should stop because they already got the message? Anyone who becomes a religious leader is wasting their time if they aren't marching out to the heathens and spreading the good news?

          Your logic is that if we don't directly approach the individuals who don't agree with our point of view then we need to sit down and shut up?

          • Actually your analogy is correct "preaching to the choir" is a variation on the theme "of playing it safe". The Bible does indeed tell believers to spread the message to the masses (1 Corinthians 9:16 "Woe to me If i do on preach the Gospel.").

          • OK. We disagree with your assessment of those analogies. "Playing it safe" seems to be a suggestion to avoid actions that could be considered inappropriate or worse; while "preaching to the choir" seems to be an allusion to providing instruction to someone who already understand the lesson. We are uncertain how these are related, or even comparable.

        • It's quite clear from the comments that there are a number of people who read the site who aren't at all on board with the idea of enthusiastic consent.

          I don't know why you'd be upset about how someone else wished to use his bandwidth anyway.

  10. Gentleman Horndog says:

    Erm, "when one of you is feeling low-energy". Stupid non-existent edit button.

  11. deadliftman says:

    Oh boy. Another article about consent. Feminism seems fascinated with consent. First it was "No means No". You are saying "Yes means Yes" and some feminists dare to go as far as saying "Yes doesn't even mean Yes".
    http://evebitfirst.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/quant

    This crazy feminist is basically claiming that all hetrosexual sex is a form of rape because almost all women are socially conditioned not to directly say no to men, or to depend on men financially/emotionally.

    God save the world.

    • Genuine question here: what exactly would be so bad with guaranteeing that all sexual encounters were consensual? Why is it a bad thing to go to lengths (extreme is a matter of perspective) to make sure everybody is happy and willingly engaging? Why is the idea that we should communicate thoroughly and restrain ourselves in times of confusion worthy of a "God save the world"?

    • Gentleman Horndog says:

      Congratulations: you found a sex-negative misandrist on the Internet. Now all you have to do is demonstrate how she's relevant — how anybody here supports her claim that all heterosexual sex is fundamentally rape or that female "agency" is to be dismissed with snarky scare-quotes, how this blogger is in any way influential or representative of the kind of feminism espoused by either the Doc or his commentors — and your link will even be worth discussing.

      Good luck with that.

    • Formerly Guesst says:

      "Feminism seems fascinated with consent."

      Imagine that.

    • Gentleman Horndog says:

      "Feminism seems fascinated with consent." Yes. Consent is a very interesting subject to people who'd like to see less rape in the world. Feminists definitely fall under that umbrella.

      But enthusiastic consent isn't just about avoiding rape — it's about having really GOOD sex. Seriously, I can't think of a single entry in my personal wank bank where some variant of "HELL yes!!!" from her didn't figure prominently.

      So, if you're anti-enthusiastic-consent, I suggest that you're not only pro-rape, but pro-bad-sex. Not a position I'd want to defend, myself.

    • Radfems are cissexist, biphobic, classist, ableist, racist, controlling assholes who support political lesbianism despite many lesbians saying they really don't like that idea. Bringing them up when we're discussing general "men shouldn't be coercive assholes" feminism is like bringing up African wild dogs when we're talking about hyenas. We aren't even in the same family and we'd just as soon eat each other and steal each other's food than actually work together (no, seriously, they hate us "funfems" and we don't like them either).

      However, I suppose I will give you points on bringing up an article that at least brings up the same general points, even if they have entirely different thesis: trying to coerce women into having sex with you via the social contract or financial support/a place to stay/love/etc. is a shitty thing to do and, yes, is rape. Woah, sex is only okay when you're not being a coercive asshole? Woah, don't get too extreme now, feminism.

    • Do you, like, talk to any real women? In real life?

      Hey, you know what sucks? Being raped because somebody didn't give a shit about consent. You know what sucks even more? Afterwards everyone blames you for being raped because everybody has fucked up ideas about consent.

      That's why we're "obsessed" with consent. Because when it's not there, it's called rape. Fuck off.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      dealift, here's a good bar for you – if someone wanted to stick their dick in some part of you, what conditions would you want for consent? Would you prefer "no means no", where being passed out or having duct tape over your mouth counted as consent, or would you want them to be absolutely 100% sure that you said yes and were of sound mind and under no coercion?

    • Feminists are "fascinated" with consent.

      Yes. Everyone should be. As the Doctor notes, it's hot.

    • Stochast says:

      So, someone claiming to be a feminist said something that makes you dislike feminism? If a man said something that you disagreed with, would you dislike all men?

      It's like the easy-point politics where one party finds the dumbest member of another party and points out something stupid they said. It only works if the other party starts defending it.

  12. deadliftman says:

    I seem to agree with the Doc's "Yes means Yes". I'm just warning y'all of the perils of excessive focus on defining the boundaries for the entire female population. Adult men and women are capable of making their own decisions and that a non-consensual sexual act by itself does not constitute rape. At least one of the parties has to feel they were wronged.

    • Formerly Guesst says:

      "a non-consensual sexual act by itself does not constitute rape"

      Yes, it absolutely does.

    • Dr_NerdLove says:

      So what you're saying is that it's not rape if the victim is unaware of it?

      • deadliftman says:

        No. If a girl/guy gets drunk to the point of not being able to consent and hooks up with someone and wakes up next morning to find out what happened last night and decides it was cool or fun or whatever and does not feel wronged in any way – then it is not a rape.

        • You are bringing up fringe cases and hypotheticals, which is exactly the reason why all rape and consent discussions get bogged down into complete uselessness.

          Enthusiastic Consent is a rule of thumb intended to help you avoid even *potential* rape scenarios as you outlined above. The extremely common occurrence of rape and coercion as bad enough that anything that errs on the side of *not raping* (even if there are some fringe cases that might be an exception) is completely necessary.

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          Funny, there's a jury out there that disagrees with you.

    • eselle28 says:

      Yes, adult men and women are capable of making their own decisions. If you choose never to do anything non-consensual to anyone, then you don't need to worry about whether the other person feels wronged afterwards. And if that person actually wants to consent to sex, they can speak up and let you know that – either in the moment or afterwards.

      This also isn't just about women. Men get to have sexual boundaries too.

      • Perhaps this debate would become crystal clear to people like deadliftman if we considered the idea of a man being raped (since deadliftman enjoys considering remotely hypothetical what-if scenarios anyway). Lets say a nominally straight man goes to the club with his gay friends (because he's OK with his own sexuality and the preferences of others), and all of his gay friends find hook ups and leave him at the bar (they had talked about this possibility beforehand and he had money for a cab). Sadly, our straight protagonist has found himself quite blitzed out of his mind, and is taken home by an acquaintance of one of his gay friends. The next morning he has a headache a sore butthole and notices blood in his stool. Of course, thanks to the guidance provided to us by deadliftman, we can be quite certain that he was not raped.

        • This is actually a really good idea. I think if we stopped refering to rape as a "women's problem" and just referred to it as a problem, I think guys would be much more sympathetic. Because guys get raped, too, especially since the most common form of rape is the "too drunk to consent" kind.

        • Legion

          I'm thinking a straight guy must've been really drunk to the point of being incapacitated to end up having sex with a gay man (and be the recipient of anal sex) In which case it is rape.

          But do you think straight guys normally end up in this situation after having a few drinks, in a state of inebriation and lowered inhibitions? And if they do who's to blame?

          • Robjection says:

            I think you want me to answer "the guy who got drunk" to that last question, but to do that would be to claim that, if you get drunk, you deserve whatever bad things come your way (with an optional "because alcohol is the devil" at the end), and, despite hardly ever having alcohol, I just can't bring myself to do that.

          • Indeed, as Robjection points out, you appear to have formed the opinion that if an individual is so drunk that their judgement is impaired then they deserve something like being dragged from frat party to frat party to be gang-raped. You also seem to have made the assumption that sexual orientation is a binary option. It is not. sexual orientation is a scale; some people are very gay, some people are very straight, most people fall somewhere in between. It is not inconceivable that our hypothetical protagonist was "bi-curious." We attempted to inform the reader of this by crafting the story to portray him as an individual who is comfortable having multiple gay friends and getting inebriated with them. We are sorry this nuance was lost on Tim; however, we are further saddened that Tim feels comfortable expressing the thought that if you get drunk you deserve for people to do very bad things to you.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Yes, a straight identified person would probably never consent to gay sex. But that's kind of the point. As a straight person, what situations would you want your actions to be considered consent? Why would you expect less consent from someone who may not want to have sex with you?

    • If the sexual act was non-consensual, then someone *didn't* make their own decision. That's what "non-consensual" means.

      And by your definition, if I steal someone's wallet and they assume they just lost it (so they don't feel wronged), what I did does not constitute theft. If I push someone down the stairs and convince them they were clumsy and tripped, what I did does not constitute assault. Is this really the world you live in?

      • deadliftman says:

        You steal my wallet – I find out about it – I decide it's okay for whatever reason – You are not a thief.
        You steal my wallet – I find out about it – I decide it's not okay for whatever reason – You are a thief.
        You push me down the stairs – I find out about it – I decide it's okay for whatever reason – You did not commit assault.
        You push me down the stairs – I find out about it – I decide it's not okay for whatever reason – You committed assault.

        • Um, no. Giving someone permission retroactively doesn't make what they originally did not a crime. Stealing is taking something that's not yours without permission; if I wasn't given permission when I took it, it is theft.

          You seem to be confused. You can decide whether or not to charge someone with a crime. You don't get to decide whether or not it *was* a crime. Crimes are defined by the laws in the place where you live, not individuals on a case by case basis.

        • Robjection says:

          Just because the victim of a crime doesn't feel bad because of it doesn't mean it's not a crime.

        • No, it goes like this:
          You steal. DONE. You're a thief.
          You push me. DONE. That's assault.

          And by extension:
          You rape. DONE. You're a rapist.

    • I am all for people defining their experiences for themselves, especially when it comes to sexual assault. Victims need that kind of control and they need support no matter how they view what happened. However, you aren't even right from a legal standpoint, so it is really dangerous for you to be spreading around this bullshit. If someone didn't consent (was intoxicated, drugged, etc.) but doesn't want to testify or charge you, the state can still charge you if they have evidence (semen, tox screen, etc.). Can you probably get away with it? Yes. Our conviction rates for rape sucks. Congrats. Are you still a rapist? Yes.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      Um. . .actually a non-consensual sexual act is the fucking definition of rape.

  13. deadliftman says:

    No. If a girl/guy gets drunk to the point of not being able to consent and hooks up with someone and wakes up next morning to find out what happened last night and decides it was cool or fun or whatever and does not feel wronged in any way – then it is not a rape.

    • eselle28 says:

      People choose not to report criminal acts all the time, for all different kinds of reasons. But that scuffle with your buddy was still assault, even if you made up 15 minutes later, and the encounter you're describing is still a rape.

      There are people who manage to conduct their sex lives like this without anyone feeling hurt, but the risk on the other side is huge – one person could go to jail, and the other person will feel incredibly violated. So don't do that. If she likes you enough to be cool with things in the morning, she probably likes you enough to have morning sex or to return your call a few days later.

    • Writing the same comment twice doesn't make it more right.

      If someone has something happen to them that meets the legal definition of rape, and decides they're okay with that, that doesn't make it not rape. That just means they're not charging anyone. People can think lots of illegal things are "cool" or "fun" (driving way over the speed limit? Doing heroin?) without them ceasing to be crimes.

      • deadliftman says:

        Hurt/pain/loss is always an element of the crime. If the supposed crime you have committed does not make your victim feel hurt/pain/loss, then it can't be a crime. The fact that this rarely happens doesn't mean it can be ignored.

        • eselle28 says:

          Since we're talking about crime and not morality here, I feel pretty confident in saying, "No, it's not." Crimes can be prosecuted even if the victim doesn't feel hurt, and sometimes even when the victim refuses to testify. It doesn't happen frequently because of evidence issues, but the fact that you forgave the person who robbed or punched you won't matter if there are other witnesses and the prosecutor wants to go forward with the case.

        • What are you basing this idea on? How much education in criminal law do you have? Because the legal definitions of rape I'm seeing don't say anything about "the victim must feel hurt afterward". Either they consented at the time or they didn't (or were incapable of it); that's what it's defined by.

          Are you seriously saying that if someone drove on the freeway at 100 mph in a 55 mph zone, as long as no one notices or gets hurt, they didn't break the law?

        • Dr_NerdLove says:

          Strangely, the law doesn't agree with you. Imagine that.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            Does anyone have a reference to this supposed law? Because – I've never, ever, ever heard of anyone being charged with rape the next day for having sex with a woman who the next day says "yes, I wanted to have sex with him" (unless violating another law, like age-based law).

            It's all "internet cool" to make big claims about the law, but I've NEVER heard of that happening. And frankly, if it really were that way you'd have a lot of pissed off feminists about it. Then "the patriarchy" would be telling them they couldn't get drunk and have sex with someone even though they wanted to.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Here's Nevada's:
            NRS 200.366  Sexual assault: Definition; penalties.
            1.  A person who subjects another person to sexual penetration, or who forces another person to make a sexual penetration on himself or herself or another, or on a beast, against the will of the victim or under conditions in which the perpetrator knows or should know that the victim is mentally or physically incapable of resisting or understanding the nature of his or her conduct, is guilty of sexual assault.

            If you want the case law equating intoxication with "incapable of understanding the nature of. . .", you can look it up yourself.

          • eselle28 says:

            It's a general principle of criminal law. Crimes are committed against the state, not the victim. That's why you might notice that on television, a lawsuit for money would be called Smith v. Johnson, but a prosecution would be called State v. Johnson. The idea is that Johnson has harmed everyone in society by breaking that law, not just Smith, the victim of the crime. This concept is true regardless of whether the crime in question is assault, theft, or rape.

            As I said above, it's uncommon for the state to prosecute a crime against the wishes of the victim. It's difficult to collect evidence without the victim's cooperation, often the prosecutor wants to protect the victim by honoring his or her choices, and the justice system is frankly so strained that people prefer to devote scarce resources to crimes where the victim is pressing for resolution. However, it does happen sometimes. The most common situation is in domestic violence cases where the victim initially reported the crime but then changed his or her mind about cooperating.

            People commit all kinds of crimes against each other that no one reports (check the laws on things like assault and battery, and think of the last time someone shoved or elbowed you). That doesn't mean they didn't happen, though. It just means that no one did anything about it. And, ultimately, it's better to be the person who doesn't elbow people in the back in a crowded area, even if the police aren't necessarily going to arrest you for it.

          • As I've said to deadliftman, there's a difference between something being a crime and someone being charged for that crime. If the law says it's a crime to do X, then it's a crime even if all participants are happy about it and no one places charges.

            To give another example–it's still a crime for a dealer to sell someone cocaine even if the buyer was totally happy to buy it.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            "If you want the case law equating intoxication with "incapable of understanding the nature of. . .", you can look it up yourself."

            That's pretty much *the* important part of the law.

            Someone else wrote –

            "Legal statutes in many states as well as at the federal level also prohibit rapes which occur
            when a perpetrator engages in a sex act with an unwilling victim who is unconscious or who is
            intoxicated with alcohol or drugs to the point that their ability to appraise or control their
            conduct is substantially impaired. The Federal Criminal Code defines this type of rape as
            aggravated sexual abuse by other means. Sometimes it is referred to as drug or alcohol
            facilitated rape."

            It sounds like "unwilling victim" is the important part.

            Look, I don't know if "deadliftman" is trolling or not, and I don't know about the more recent hurt/pain/loss comment, but what stood out from the original comment is "decides it was cool or fun or whatever and does not feel wronged in any way".

            It's ridiculous to claim that someone who wanted to have sex at the beginning of the evening, wanted to have sex when you were having sex, and still wanted to have had the sex they had the next day when they're sober – was "raped" because they had had several drinks before having sex.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            Oh, I see why there's such strong reactions, this thread started off with some sort of bullshit about "a non-consensual sexual act by itself does not constitute rape" – non-consensual is *exactly* what rape means. Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh.

            Well – then a discussion on this is in a bad context being here in the thread…

        • By that definition a grown adult grooming a child for sex is not a crime as long as the child feels no hurt/pain/loss…

          My mind is officially boggled by the world you live in and I don't wanna visit.

    • In a strictly legal, sense you are correct. However, just because somethnig is legal doesn't necessarily make it ethical or moral. A person who has sex with a person who is clearly intoxicated is taking an action that is at best ethically questionable. The intoxicated person might be cool with it but this isn't guaranteed. The person might also not be cool with it and this means that they are a victim of rape. Even without getting into the morality of it al, its better not to risk so you don't find yourself accused of rape. Its also good not to do anything thats immoral.

      • Really? You're a lawyer, so this should be your area. Are you honestly saying that even if the law in your state defines rape as having sex with someone who's intoxicated to the point of incapacitation, it's not legally rape if afterwards the person isn't upset? I'm not aware of any other crime that ceases to be a crime just because the victim decides not to pursue charges.

        Does statutory rape cease to be legal rape if the parents of the kid/teen decide they don't mind?

        • Actually, I really shouldn't have typed this. Its been years since I had any contact with criminal law. Mea culpa. Legally, intoxicated people can not give consent. So yes, its rape from a legal perspective.

          What I was really trying to say, in a really half-assed not very well written way, was that simply because somebody wound up cool with the situation doesn't mean you should do it the first place. There are moral issues involved and because its entirely very risky. You don't know if that person is going to be okay with it, so don't do it.

      • Formerly Guesst says:

        Being strictly legal in this situation would even be dependent on where you are and what the rape laws are. I don't know about other states, but in my state — as I mentioned upthread somewhere — in a strictly legal sense this would be rape. Drunk means no legal consent, even if you don't report it the next morning. Even if you're okay with it the next morning.

        It would be equivalent to someone breaking the light on your car and not leaving a note. You might not care, you might even have been planning to replace the light soon anyway so you're okay with it, but it's still illegal that they damaged your property and didn't leave their info.

        • deadliftman says:

          If what I'm saying is not true, then I have a rape case to report! One of my friends did exactly this – she got very drunk and hooked up with two guys in one night – she found out about it next morning – was pleasantly surprised and quite happy about it – She even proudly shared it on facebook.

          I will do some more online research to see if this indeed constitutes rape.

          • eselle28 says:

            This is the part that gets scary about this: many adults who drink have been raped or have raped someone or both.

            If your friend doesn't remember what she did, it probably was rape. This doesn't mean the men will be going to jail, since she's not interested in reporting the event. But this isn't a great model of how to have sex. People who have gotten into it would do better to try to work their way into a healthier way of dealing with their sexuality, and people who aren't sexually active yet should try to avoid going down this road.

          • Additionally, many people who don't view what happened to them as rape still end up needing to unpack the experience via counselling (which is great; people who need help working through things should get it). It is confusing for them. It hurts them. Plus it puts them at increased risks for STIs, especially because victims who view what happened to them as just some "drunken fun" often don't think to go get tested.

            However, deadliftman, if all parties involved in your friend's incident were drunk, they may have all been sexually assaulted by each other. Not just women are victims and during my and friends' volunteer work as a counselors, we've seen both sides of "drunken fun" call or come in to work out the situation on multiple occassions. It really isn't a good situation for anyone.

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            "But this isn't a great model of how to have sex."

            Yeah.

            "Not prosecutable" is not the same as "Good idea".

          • Seconded. I have a dear friend who will deliberately go out with the intent of getting drunk and hooking up with a guy. As in, that's her specific goal. I always wondered why, because in my experience drunk sex is generally terrible. Turns out she drinks as a way of quelling her anxiety and poor body image. And I'm pretty sure she's a high-functioning alcoholic. So yeah, while I can't quite say what she does is rape, it's certainly not healthy.

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            Damn is that depressing. And where does this behavior fit in with the consent models we've been discussing? If she's going out with the intent of getting so drunk that she can't give meaningful consent and then hooking up with somebody, is she in fact going out with the intent of getting raped? I know "She was asking for it" inspires righteous fury in most feminists, and rightfully so; but I feel like one can argue that's exactly what your friend is doing. Or is she offering some kind of meaningful "pre-consent" to have impaired sex with somebody she hasn't met yet? I'm honestly struggling with how to frame this behavior.

            I know that in a perfect world, she either wouldn't find any men willing to take advantage of her, or simply wouldn't be doing this in the first place. But that's not the world we live in.

            I sincerely hope your friend grows out of this behavior before she gets badly hurt.

          • Stochast says:

            I've known other people with this behavior, and I really don't know how to wrap my head around it and the necessity of consent, for both themselves and for their potential partners.

          • As I noted above, there are fringe cases.

            But you spouting about fringe cases and arguing *against* obtaining consent just because That One Thing Happened That One Time means that lurkers and anybody within earshot of you saying this is getting an impression that Sometimes It's Okay To Not Get Consent. Just because it turned out okay the one time does not mean that thousands of women (and men) don't get raped *in exactly the same circumstances.*

            You do not want the result of your commenting to be someone going out and getting someone else drunk with intent of coercing/raping them and thinking "Well, it might not be rape because it might turn out okay in the morning."

          • It depends on the laws where you are, but yes, whether your friend decided she was happy about it after the fact or not, her situation could be potentially considered rape.

            Just like a 14-year-old could brag excitedly about having slept with a 20-year-old, but it wouldn't mean s/he hadn't experienced statutory rape if the age of consent where s/he is is 16 or 18.

          • Your hyperbole is endearing. Your attempt to troll this site is not. The fact that you are trying to make even the meekest argument that a non-consensual sexual encounter of some kind might not be rape is reprehensible. Some people make very poor choices and put themselves in high risk situations. However, they are not responsible for the choice to be raped. No one chooses that. Rapists rape. Rape victims are victims. These are the simplest terms to put it in, linguistically and cognitively. If you were raped that means someone else did something to you. They made a choice that resulted in you being raped. Even if someone is being provocative, flirty and suggestive they have an expectation to not be raped. They can't force you to rape them because if they do it means you are now being raped. OK? Rape is a one way street. Any wordsmithing or interpretive acrobatics is nothing more than an attempt to justify bad behavior.

        • Really? Last time I looked date rape only counts if she became intoxicated against her will. If she consents while drunk then it's not considered a crime.

          • Nope. If they are intoxicated "to the point that their ability to appraise or control their conduct is substantially impaired", you can at least be charged with a federal crime. Most states will also charge you.

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            You need to look again. The law says nothing about intentional or unintentional intoxication.12 jurors in Ohio just agreed that being intoxicated of your own free will doesn't mean that you can't be raped.

          • I"m talking drunk not roaring drunk. Or "someone's going to have a hangover tomorrow" not "may have to call an ambulance".

          • x_Sanguine_8 says:

            DNL said it himself: " too drunk to drive, too drunk to consent". Impaired is impaired, even if they're fully still awake and aware.

          • Feminist Catharine MacKinnon is misquoted as saying "all sex is rape". Some here now are starting to suggest that it's actually true. Not only does a woman have to consent at the moment but also in perpetuity.

            If: "I wouldn't have slept with him but I had a couple of drinks – it was rape."

            Then you might as well argue : "My boyfriend seemed pretty cool until he cheated and I found what a dirtbag he really was therefore the times we spent in bed are all now rape."

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Nice strawman,

          • No strawman. If any strawman is used is that I'm talking about a woman too drunk to make any decision ("too drunk to drive let aloneconsent") when I'm talking about being tipsy/mild drunk where a women might not consent if she were sober but isn't full-on drunk either.

    • Also, if the person was drunk enough that their thinking was impaired and they couldn't consent, then how can they judge even after they've sobered up whether what happened really was cool or fun? They're not going to have a clear memory of it, because their thinking was impaired.

      This is why we have laws like this. It's like statutory rape. We recognize that in certain situations a person is incapable of judging for themself whether they're okay with something happening (because they're not yet fully mature, because they're mentally impaired temporarily or permanently), so we make a blanket statement that it just isn't ever okay.

    • The biggest problem with this approach is that you don't know until after the fact if any harm was done or if the situation was cool and fun. Why not just hold out for a set of circumstances where you know beforehand that all parties involved are in full possession of their faculties and consider the activity cool and fun?

      • And since I don't want to ignore the fact that a little alcohol can be fun in these situations, you could suggests some sexy escapades while everyone is sober, and if they go for it THEN have a few drinks.

    • Wow. Surprised you aren't in prison yet with that attitude. Unless you are and this is how you pass the time.

  14. I love a lot of Jessica Valenti's early writings. She has said and put out some really important things, but she has also said some extremely cissexist and racist things over the years as has Jaclyn Friedman, including some in Yes Means Yes. So this is just a heads up: if you are looking for a queer-friendly, privilege-aware book on enthusiastic consent, Yes Means Yes is not it. I still think it is a good read if you keep those issues in mind and won't be triggered by them, but yeah, Valenti and Friedman aren't really what I would call lovely people.

  15. I think we need a less intimidating term than "enthusiastic consent" to describe the type of consent necessary for sex. The problem really isn't in the consent part but in the enthusiasm. We recently had a series of threads about the concept of the alpha male. Its a ridiculous concept but a lot of men believe that you need to be the best of the best to stand any chance to get a woman. I think the enthusiastic in enthusiastic consent triggers these sorts of fears. When a lot of men, and this includes me in my more self-pitying moments, hear the term "enthusiastic consent", they imagine that it means that the woman has to be ripping off your clothes and dragging you to wherever to get sex. A lot of men can't really envision this happenign to them.

    • Enthusiastic does not = uncontrollable lust. If guys overstate the idea in their head and feel insecure, that's their issue to deal with.

      It's funny, because in most areas of life, we automatically look for enthusiasm. If you ask a friend to do something with you and they say "Okay, I guess" in a listless voice, wouldn't you stop and check whether they really are interested, not assume all's great? If you suggested grabbing dinner to a date and she replied that way, wouldn't you think maybe she isn't hungry and check what she actually wants to do? Enthusiasm just means actually sounding and acting like they're interested and engaged. "Want to take this to the bedroom?" "Let's" with a grin = enthusiastic consent. Would you really want to have sex with someone giving less than that?

      • Paul Rivers says:

        But that's a different situation.

        The more analogous situation is more like – If you standing in front of a bunch of jocks, but one of them was your friend, and you asked him if he wanted to come over and play dungeons and dragons with your group – in front of the whole group of other jocks from his football team, how would you take his response?

        He might fake "sure, I guess" because he doesn't want to look uncool in front of his teamates. He might say "no" when he really means "yes" because the other guys on his team will just make fun of him. Or he might enjoy ribbing his teamates and say "Yeah, that sounds awesome!" but then actually not be enthusiastic about it. He might say "yeah, what time?" knowing his teamates will make fun of him but not caring at all whether they like what he does or not. What if his religion tells him he's not "supposed to" like d&d…but secretly he really wants to play anyways?

        • And yet, if you respect his no as a no, somehow he'll magically find a way to get in touch with you to play later on when he's actually comfortable with it!

          In what world do you consider continuing to push the poor guy to come play d&d with you the right thing to do?

          • Paul Rivers says:

            You seem to have missed the point of the analogy, which I'll respond to to Mel's post (rather than typing it twice).

        • I'm not seeing how that situation is analogous. Are you usually asking someone to have sex in front of other people who might sway their opinion?

          If someone kind of wants to have sex, but feels conflicted because of social pressure/religion/whatever, then the responsible thing to do is to *wait* until they are sure they want to have sex. It's not up to you to decide whether their internal conflict is valid enough to take into account. If they're hesitating, they're choosing to hesitate–respect that.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            My point was that people can have reactions based on how they think they're "supposed" to react, or how it's "cool" to react rather than how they actually feel. And that doesn't even get into that a lot of times people don't like feeling excited about something that they're not sure how it will go, like sleeping with someone new, like when someone surprisingly knows what they're doing in bed, or someone who's super hot surprisingly doesn't.

            On The Big Bang theory, there's a whole sequence of little quips from Penny talking to her girlfriends who's basic theme is that her deriding Leonard for acting to enthusiastic about having sex with her (when they were dating and sleeping together). When someone does express enthusiasm for sex, it's Howard – someone who's generally seen as a character who's a little creepy and socially inappropriate – often (though certainly not always) for his outward enthusiasm for sex/similar topics.

            You'll probably argue that Howard is being socially "inappropriate" because there's other people around, or something like that, but that's exactly the point – a lot of people (especially women…unfortunately) learn to feel uncomfortable externally expressing enthusiasm for sex. Maybe it's the ribbing they got when they liked a boy and were enthusiastic and ALL their friends made fun of them for it – for like an entire year. Maybe it's watching that happen to someone else. Maybe it's that they're religious and it's years of religious indoctrination that tells them about how god looks badly on sexual thoughts, and they feel like they want to have sex but have a huge block about expressing it, let alone expressing it with "enthusiasm". There's a huge group of religious people who are actually ok with what they want, but rather uncomfortable talking about it, as their only model has been that talking about it is always about how it's "bad".

            Then we get into people who have trouble acknowledging their emotions, they want to have sex but they feel guilty about wanting it. Or the only other time they had sex it wasn't good and they want to do it again but aren't sure if it will be better. Or there's the INCREDIBLY common "it's just supposed to happen without all this talking about it" theme that is prevalent even – with my very liberal friends.

            An ex of mind (we dated for a month and got physical but never actually slept together) was telling me about her next boyfriend, the first guy she slept with. The day after they slept together, they were out shopping, and he cautiously and respectfully asked her if she maybe thought they were going to sleep together again at some point. She got MAD at him for asking – she still had strong emotions about it 2-3 years later. She was going on about how refused to "apologize" – just for ASKING about the topic. And this is a girl who listens to NPR and got mad at me for not recycling "enough" of my trash, and her dream job is working at pbs – she's very liberal, we're not talking about someone indoctrinated by conservative christian ideology (her parents are not conservative christians either, I asked).

            American culture (if I remember right you're Canadian) often makes women uncomfortable outwardly expressing enthusiasm. If you want to say it's a bunch of bullshit – I agree with you 100%! – but it is how it is. It's one thing to recommend getting clear consent – but women are often socialized to not feel comfortable expressing "enthusiasm" for sleeping with someone they haven't slept with before, regardless of their own internal feelings. And even there – often women don't like **feeling** enthusiastic about sleeping with you until they've actually slept with you a couple of times.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Your ex sounds pretty high strung. I don't think that had anything to do with her political views, just her level of maturity. You did say this was the day after her first time, after all.

            As for your cultural conditioning argument, see the threadnaught below. Conditioning does not equal blind obedience.

          • I think we probably have different definitions of "enthusiastic". I don't think it's required that the woman be moaning and screaming and making all kinds of dirty talk, which yes, many women would feel uncomfortable doing. I think simply smiling (or having some other pleased expression) and actively participating at least a little (touching you, moving against you, rather than just lying there) after a verbal confirmation that can be as simple as "yes" in a positive sounding voice counts as enthusiastic consent. If she's doing that much, no problem.

            If a woman is so uncomfortable with her sexuality that she can't help looking or acting bored/anxious/uncomfortable/some other negative emotion while having sex she really does want to have, then I don't think she should be having sex until she has some therapy to work through that. I don't think it's normal for women to be conflicted to that extent. (I may live in Canada, but I've been consuming American media all my life, and most of the first time sex scenes I've seen depicted involved at least that basic level of enthusiasm I mentioned, unless they were supposed to be problematic; I've never seen a depiction of a woman shamed for simply looking pleased and participating in the sex.) And I don't think a guy having sex with a woman that conflicted, despite her giving signals that she's not totally into it, will help her get over that. If anything, it could make her attitudes worse, because it'll confirm for her that guys don't care about her being enthusiastic and in fact may prefer if she seems detached or uneasy.

            In my mind, if a guy encounters a woman who is that way, the best thing he could do if he cares about her and wants to be with her is to take things slow, make it clear to her that he won't judge her for showing enthusiasm, and make sure to be supportive and positive whenever she's able to let down her guard and show even a little enthusiasm, starting with things as minor as just kissing or light making out. I don't think it's likely to be good for either partner or the relationship for the guy to move things further (say, from light making out to heavy petting) until the woman is able to show at least a minimum of consistent clear enthusiasm for whatever they're currently doing.

            Might there be some occasions when that would actually work out, and help break the woman out of her shell? Sure. But I think it's more *likely* to do the opposite, and since you can't know which it'll be with any given person in the moment, it's better to go with the option more likely to be helpful rather than harmful. And I'm not seeing any clear downside to taking this approach. Either you both end up happy and having openly enthusiastic sex, or you don't have not-entirely enthusiastic sex but at least you can be sure no one had sex they didn't want. IMHO, avoiding sex one person isn't totally comfortable with is more important than having sex a person wants but is having trouble showing, especially since as I said, I think the former is the more likely scenario.

            Re: your one ex, I agree with GJ that she sounds immature, and I can actually kind of see where she was coming from. If the first bf I slept with had asked me if I thought we were going to have sex again, regardless of how "respectfully", the very next day while we were out shopping, that would have made me uncomfortable too. What would have gone through my head: Wow, sex is so important to him that less than 24 hours after our first time, he's already so impatient to have it again that he's going to ask while we're out in public rather than just waiting until we're alone and sex is potentially on the table? He's so interested in sex he's thinking about that instead of what we're actually doing right now, so much that he has to bring it up? As an inexperienced person, it would have made me worried that the guy cared way more about having sex with me than any other part of our relationship, and that would have made me uneasy. I don't know if that's what was going through your ex's mind, and I think it's extreme that she was still so bothered by it years later, but I don't think it shows any conservative values or restrictiveness around sex that she'd not want to think her bf's primary motivation for being with her was physical pleasure, rather than their emotional connection or whatever.

          • I don't think it's required that the woman be moaning and screaming and making all kinds of dirty talk, which yes, many women would feel uncomfortable doing. I think simply smiling (or having some other pleased expression) and actively participating at least a little (touching you, moving against you, rather than just lying there) after a verbal confirmation that can be as simple as "yes" in a positive sounding voice counts as enthusiastic consent. If she's doing that much, no problem.

            i'm really uncomfortable with the ways that people are playing down the idea of enthusiastic consent. "Well, your partner doesn't *have* to be really participating *that* much. I think a 'let's try this' or a smile or a positive sounding response is enough."

            You know what? If actual participation sounds impossible to you, change your fantasies. And if you can't get enthusiastic participation, maybe you shouldn't be having sex at all.

            If your partner isn't kissing you back — if your partner isn't helping you take off your clothes or being excited when you do or taking off *their* clothes or actively reaching for a condom or touching you or doing anything else — then stop. Don't move forward. Vocalizing isn't necessary (and God knows dirty talk isn't), but participating is. Verbal consent is part of this, but so is behavior.

            The best part about enthusiastic consent is that getting it doesn't just mean your partner is consenting — it means they're *enjoying* themselves. And that means that they're likely to come back — and that you're likely to get a reputation of being good in bed.

          • Um, is this complaint directed at me? Because I'm not trying to "play down" the idea of enthusiastic consent; I'm responding to people who are playing it up as if it's impossible to get. I didn't say a single smile or a positive sounding response is enough, I said, as you quoted, "smiling (or having some other pleased expression)" (i.e., continuously) *and* "actively participating" *and* having gotten a positive verbal confirmation all together = enthusiastic consent. Surely you're not saying that if you ask your partner if they'd like to have sex, and they happily say "sure" and are smiling and making expressions of pleasure and touching you and moving against you, that this is not enough and you would stop and ask them if they're okay? (Unless, obviously, they're also displaying some other behaviors that contradict the above.)

            I totally agree with your examples of when you should stop–that is, if your partner isn't *doing anything* to actively participate. But I don't see where I said that you should assume your partner's enthusiastic and keep going if they just lay there unresponsively; in fact, I said the opposite. So I'm not sure why you're quoting me and talking as if you're arguing with me about something I… clearly agree with, right there in the quote.

          • I'm just really increasingly uncomfortable with everyone wanting to tell self-pitying guys that their partners don't *have* to be ripping their clothes off; all they have to do is be doing x or y. And that — to me — is a *very* slippery slope, particularly when the context is not that "well, a lot of women aren't going to do xyz off the bat" but "I know you can't imagine *this* scenario, but all you need is this one."

          • I don't know, I think it's perfectly reasonable to say, look, as long as there aren't any clear signs that she's *not* into it, and there are obvious signs that she *is* into it (examples), you don't have to worry–figuring it out isn't really that hard. That's the point I was trying to get across: not "oh you don't need that much" but "you're making it sound like the only way you can tell someone's enthusiastic is if they're totally wild and therefore you often won't be able to tell so there's no point in using that as a standard, but actually enthusiasm isn't that hard to differentiate from lack of enthusiasm even with someone more reserved, so yes, it is a reasonable standard". I apologize for being unclear.

            This matters to me because I don't think it's just a matter of "a lot of women aren't going to do xyz off the bat", but that there are plenty of women who never express their sexual enthusiasm as wild abandon. I'm a totally active and enthusiastic participant in sex, but I've never felt the urge to rip my husband's clothes off or drag him forcibly to the bed. I find gentle seduction much more sexy. I think if we start saying, "You can only tell your partner's enthusiastic if they're wildly uninhibited; plain old verbal consent and active participation and looking happy just isn't enough", we're setting a standard for how *women* need to behave in order for their enthusiasm to be believed that I don't think is fair *to women*. And we're encouraging the idea that enthusiasm is based on a very specific set of actions rather than just paying attention to your partner and seeing that they are enthusiastic however they personally express that (which again, I don't think is hard to tell from lack of enthusiasm or mixed feelings, even in someone more reserved).

            I hope that clarifies my position. And I think it's pretty clear from all the other comments in various threads here that no one is trying to coddle people into thinking they don't need their partners to actually be totally enthusiastic.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            But. . .but. . .if we don't have a check list to go by, how can guys ever know? We have to be able to rules lawyer specific behaviors or we'll never have plausible deinability. . .I mean. . .be sure we're doing it right.

            That's not aimed at you or LMM, it just kind of jumped out at me. More seriously, anyone who's reasonably capable of communicating with other human beings can tell enthusiasm from hesitation without it having to be the Manic Pixie Geek Girl on one side and the Ice Queen on the other.

          • Exactly! I am very frustrated by this idea that enthusiasm is so difficult to identify, or so difficult for a woman to express, or that if you're having trouble telling if it's there, having a conversation about it with your partner is so difficult.

            Yes, paying attention to your (general you) partner and having open communication with them around sex can sometimes be nervous-making. The good options are, you grow a spine, accept the idea that sometimes your partner may not be enthusiastic, and pay attention and communicate despite being nervous; you seek resources (of which there are many) or therapy to help you become less nervous if you're not able to do that on your own, or you don't have sex. Is being nervous fun? No. But the answer to the problem is still perfectly straight-forward.

            (To also note, because this has come up elsewhere: It's not the being nervous people don't have sympathy for; it's the acting like that nervousness is a reasonable excuse for having sex when you're not willing or able to communicate openly with your partner, or acting like it's so hard to find resources how to deal with nervousness unless every article that mentions a potentially nervous situation points you directly to a set of instructions.)

    • Formerly Guesst says:

      I think it's good to keep in that enthusiastic does not necessarily mean extroverted, confident, or outgoing. Shy, introverted people are enthusiastic, too. Just differently, and probably not in the way you seem to be imagining.

      • Paul Rivers says:

        The google definition of enthusiastic is –
        "Having or showing intense and eager enjoyment, interest, or approval."

        • eselle28 says:

          Sure. You can be intense and eager without being loud and bouncing all over the room. Think of someone who's enraptured in a really good book.

        • Formerly Guesst says:

          And the Merriam Webster definition of enthusiastic is "filled with or marked by [strong excitement of feeling]". There's an "or" in there, and nothing in that definition that requires "showing." So, let's keep dictionary definitions out of it because that's derailing.

          My point is that enthusiasm doesn't have to be Rah! Rah! pom poms, or as eselle says below, "bouncing all over the room."

          • Formerly Guesst says:

            As eselle says above, not below. Sorry, eselle. Your comment was below when I was originally typing mine.

    • Christine says:

      I hear what you're saying LeeEsq. If it's not downright enthusiastic (YES!), I would think just a decent positive would do. Even with people who are shy or nervous, it seems like there's a difference between "Let's give this a try" (I think I might like you) and "oh…well…I guess so…" (I'd really rather not). This may not fit it exactly with the article, but IRL this makes sense to me.

      • If it's not downright enthusiastic (YES!), I would think just a decent positive would do. Even with people who are shy or nervous, it seems like there's a difference between "Let's give this a try" (I think I might like you) and "oh…well…I guess so…" (I'd really rather not).

        The thing about enthusiastic consent is that it keeps happening — and it's not about a single action. A "decent positive" may be okay when you start kissing, but by the time your clothes come off? By the time that penetration happens? "Let's give this a try" is not something I'd be comfortable with, let alone something I'd fantasize about.

        • A lot depends on the tone and body language as well as the words, right? I can imagine someone saying "Let's give this a try" with a playful tone and a relaxed smile, meaning it like, let's explore what we might enjoy together. Which I'd say counts quite well as enthusiastic consent. Definitely if it's accompanied by hesitation and a bored or nervous tone, not so much.

          • I can imagine someone saying "Let's give this a try" with a playful tone and a relaxed smile, meaning it like, let's explore what we might enjoy together. Which I'd say counts quite well as enthusiastic consent.

            That's not what I'm getting out of a "decent positive," though. (Context is everything: "No — why would I want to have sex with you?" could be an invitation to jump me — if said in a sarcastic tone with a smirk and a wink. But those words alone? Definitely not assenting.)

          • eselle28 says:

            I think context is especially everything if you're talking about a "Let's give this a try" situation. If you're suggesting something new to someone (whether that be something that would make Dan Savage blush or someone's first kiss), I think you've got a duty to keep and eye on things and make sure that the other person is actually liking what you're doing and isn't just hanging in there because they've agreed.

            And people are making this out to be something that's so terribly hard, and it's kind of difficult for me to understand. I'm not even very good at reading people, and I can tell the difference between a guy who's horny, a guy who'd really rather just roll over and go to sleep, and a guy who's not comfortable with something about the situation. It's hard for me to believe that women are so very tough to read.

        • This.

          Are lips kissing you back? Is she moving against you? Are her hands on your body too?

          Enjoyment is not that difficult to read.

  16. eselle28 says:

    So how do you picture it happening?

    • Anti-climatically and with a lot of scheduling.

      • eselle28 says:

        Okay, but how do you picture yourself feeling about it when it is about to happen? Your partner should be feeling the same way, even if she's not in ripping clothes off mode.

        • I was attempting a bit self-depreciating humor, it apparently didn't work out that well. At this point, I really don't know what I'm going to feel like. I can't even imagine a scenario leading up to sex in my imagination at this point let alone in real life. I try to fantasize about and just can't. It literally seems like its never going to happen. There is so much that I want to experience and so much that I missed out of and well never get to experience or at least if I get to, it'll be in a fake and theatrical form rather than some authentic. This isn't just related to sex, its related to everything in a relationship. I tend to see myself either in a relationship where everything I want is seen as immature and something that doesn't have to be done or with somebody whose so busy that she doesn't have time to spend with me and everything is rush and hurry.

          I'm jealous at people who got to have relationships when they were young and with very little in the way of responsibilities. In my own life, responsibilities are increasing all the time. There always seems something that needs to be done at work or in my life and even arranging a simple coffee date involves a lot of scheduling. I want spontaneity and what I missed.

      • If you want to know my real fantasy on how it happens, over a three-day weekend devoted to sex with no interruptions from outsiders.

  17. Gentleman Horndog says:

    Think of it this way: Would you rather your first partner be enthused that she gets to fuck you? (I know it seems impossible now. It isn't.) Or would you rather she be technically willing, but obviously disinterested and eager to get it over with?

    The former is so very worth holding out for.

    • Gentleman Horndog says:

      (Meant to be a reply to LeeEsq. I'll just delete this and repost … oh, yeah. No delete button, either. Razzum frazzum IntenseDebate….)

    • CaseyXavier says:

      I don't really get the appeal of 'OK she'll take her clothes off and let me fuck her, but she obviously doesn't actually want to' sex. The hell sounds so great about that??

      • Gentleman Horndog says:

        The appeal lies in coming to the conclusion, for whatever reason, that even lousy (but still consensual) sex is better than no sex at all.

        It's a mindset that I, for one, needed some time to grow out of.

      • Robjection says:

        I'm guessing it goes something like this:

        Take a society that tells men that sex is this wonderful thing that everyone is having and if you're not having it then there's something wrong with you.
        Add a man who goes along with this narrative (because it's easier than challenging it) but finds himself unable to have sex.
        Let the desperation brew for a bit and, before you know it, the man is placing his desire for sex above all else, including desire for quality sex and the feelings of those he is trying to have sex with.
        I think there is then a bit about punishments for rape being the only thing preventing some of these men from seeking obviously explicitly non-consensual sex, but I'm less certain about that.

    • Probably the former but I have a lot of pent up horniess and my love and sex life are going nowhere fast so I have no idea how I'd react in the latter situation, which seems impossible to me to. At this point, I'm completely unsure that I'm going to have any partner let alone more than one and I'm filled with apprehensions, desires, and wants that are contradictory.

      • Being sad and horny has nothing to do with being the kind of person who is willing to manipulate, guilt trip or rape to get off. You don't get a free pass to use an unwilling or hesitant human being for sex no matter how sad or lonely you are.

        • This. Honestly, the more people want sympathy for not being able to imagine a willing partner, the less I think they deserve to find one.

          Most of my life has consisted of dry spells, but I have *never* imagined — let alone fantasized about — having a partner who isn't enthusiastic. Not being into me is one of the biggest turn-offs I can imagine.

  18. I just don't understand people with that sort of mindset, who would gamble potential harm/criminal charges on the off chance they'd get a drunken night of sex. Is sex really THAT precious? What exists in this mindset that makes the idea of fully and enthusiastically consenting so difficult and troublesome?

    • To these men, women are objects to be obtained, like a toy.

      When we talk about consent, they hear "You have to do A, B, and C to get to play with the toy."

      So, like children they try to bargain, "Well what if I just do A and B? Or A and C? Or just A three times?" because they want the least amount of effort standing between them and their toy.

  19. CaseyXavier says:

    Thanks for this entry, Doc. I've had a few experiences that I don't really know how to feel about, in part because it's in the past and I have no desire to ever think about any of these guys ever again. There was one experience that was the most egregious to me, in terms of 'enthusiastic consent'. One of my very first partners (in his very-late 20s) fucked me WHILE I WAS CRYING. I wasn't crying about the sex, but it had to do with something I was upset about in the relationship. We'd talked about it and objectively I was fine with everything, but I was still emotionally raw. I was still red and puffy in the face and eyes, tears still trickling and my nose was running with snot, and the noises that were coming out of me were pretty gross thanks to said snotty nose. SEXY, right? We couldn't even kiss properly because my face was still all scrunched up.

    I don't know why I didn't say "Dude, really? No." Mostly my thoughts were. "Wha? Are we really? What? Jesus Christ this must be the most unattractive lay he's ever had" and he was still in his Prince Charming phase and I was in my 'make everything be perfect and happy and don't do anything to hurt his feelings' mode. I thought (and part of me still thinks) that he intended it as make-up sex, comforting sex, etc. and I felt obligated to do it or risk making a mountain out of a molehill by saying no. Certainly I don't consider that incident rape. But instead of feeling like I'd had sex, I felt like he'd had sex with my body, if that even makes sense. It is confusing because in terms of mechanics and how the sexytimes progressed it was just like all our previous sexytimes, except this time I felt completely disconnected and ugly.

    Don't really know where I was going with that! Maybe that enthusiastic consent can be an issue even in established relationships. I did learn a lesson from that though, and now I'm a lot better about policing my own boundaries and telling someone that I don't want to do something or am not comfortable with something.

    • You are not alone. I've had sex like that more than once – where I never said no and I had a bunch of factors going on making me not want to say no even if I didn't want to say yes. It was incredibly terrible and draining. Fortunately, after three years of this, my self-esteem went up and I got in with a bunch of feminists so years later I've gotten way better about this. But thinking back on those memories still gives me the creeps.

    • Paul Rivers says:

      I had a girlfriend who, when she was sad or "down", wanted me to kiss her. It made her feel better, she would verbally ask for it, she *did* feel better, etc etc.

      Eventually we broke up, yada yada, I was dating someone else, and one day she was having a rough day and I kissed her – and she looked at me like "…wtf are you doing?".

      I'm not saying I know why *this* guy did it, I'm just saying that I've been on the other side where a previous girl had had really wanted something similar to that, and that's why I did it with the second girl (and of course never did it again after getting a negative reaction from the second girl).

      • eselle28 says:

        The lesson here isn't that it's okay or understandable to have sex with someone who's having a negative emotional reaction while it's happening. It's that people who like to be comforted in unusual ways or whose visible emotions don't match their desires, like your ex-girlfriend, are capable of explaining what they need and asking for it.

        If I took every sexual or romantic interaction that one of my ex-boyfriends had liked and assumed that it was okay to transfer to other relationships, there would be some really freaked out, traumatized guys running around.

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          I'm just picturing a rom-com close up shot shot of a guy's eyes going really wide with the caption "I didn't even know you could put that there."

    • Ugh, this has happened to me multiple times with two different boyfriends. Some dudes get off on girls crying….it's too creepy for me to even really think about. Like you, I didn't say anything but was horrified the whole time. Like you, I hope that I've learned from this and can be more clear about my boundaries in my next relationship.

    • This makes so much sense to me that it scares me.

  20. Hey Dr Nerdlove,

    I agree with the benefits of enthusiastic consent. But as you acknowledge with respect to long-term relationships, it's not without problems. For one, consent can be real without being enthusiastic, and not just in a long-term relationship. Sure, enthusiasm is better, but that doesn't make other expressions of consent invalid. Also, people do often drink so they can do things they want to do (and are enthusiastic about) but aren't able to do when sober – it is unfair to always assume that sober decisions are the true expressions of subjective enthusiasm and not drunk decisions. Of course, there's a point when drunk is too drunk, but there's also a point, for most people, at least, when too sober is too sober.

    But the most important point is that most people are unable to engange in the kind of sexual dialogue you present as ideal. For two reasons: One, they're not always aware of what they really want, and two, even if they are, they're unable to talk about it in a sexy way. Most people are shy about this stuff, particularly if they're not in a committed relationship. It's not that it's unsexy to talk about sex, it's just that most people are unable to do so in a sexy way. And I think it's unfair of those who are able to do so to tell everyone else that they're doing it wrong. If only because it will not make them any more willing to accept the advice, particularly when, usually, there's really nothing teaching them how to do it.

    Just like in this case: you're presenting something as an ideal that most people aren't able to do and then you just leave them hanging with the notion that it's not like in Antioch, but good dirty talk. I believe it would only be fair to do a followup that breaks down how to sexily talk about sex without ruining the mood, which, I am aware, is f***king difficult…

    • BritterSweet says:

      Too sober is too sober? Seriously?

      • Sure, there's something like taking off the edge. I don't want my consent to be declared invalid when I had a Gin & Tonic (I certainly shouldn't drive in that case).

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          And I certainly don't want to be told I "didn't say no" because I was so drunk that I had to be physically carried somewhere. Given those two extremes, I'd sooner err on the side of sobriety.

          • Which is fair enough. But where do you draw the line? Formalistic? Intuition?

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Well, since my girlfriend doesn't drink, its kind of a moot point.

            You know, ok, I'll give you a serious answer. Observation and empathy. I'm straight, so I use the metric of "under what conditions would I want my actions to be considered consent to be penetrated"? I'd obviously want the other party to be VERY sure they had my intentions right. If the person I'm trying to get consent from is outside those conditions, sex is off the table for the moment.

          • I would say you draw the line when the person is clearly impaired. If there's any sign that their mental functioning is off (having trouble standing or walking straight, slurred speech, stumbling over their words, unable to follow the thread of a conversation without getting distracted, etc.–basically, a noticeable decrease in cognitive ability rather than just a change in mood), you assume their ability to give consent is also impaired.

          • Well, yeah. Sure. Clearly impaired is a pretty clear standard I think most people can recognize. But that's very different from "not able to drive" for most people.

          • I got the impression most people decided whether they were able to drive based on whether they were feeling impaired. If you've had a couple drinks but still feel and are acting clear-headed, why would you assume you're not able to drive?

            (I mean, the exact laws on blood alcohol levels will vary from place to place, but we're not talking about giving someone a breathalizer to make sure they're in legal limits, just eyeballing and considering whether you'd feel safe letting them behind the wheel.)

          • Really? For me the legal limit for driving is half a liter of beer (0.05%). But I'd certainly be able to consent to a make out in complete awareness after having had 5 Gin & Tonics…

          • Like I said, I'm not talking about the *legal* limit, I'm talking about the point at which a person seems impaired to the point that it wouldn't appear to be *safe* for them to drive.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Let's use the inverse example again. Right now, sober, would you want your "yes" after five gin and tonics to count if it involved YOU being penetrated?

          • Yes.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Well there you go then. My only caveat is look at the effects, not the number of drinks. Your five G&T sounds like my 1.5 rum and cokes.

          • eselle28 says:

            A test that's been proposed is whether you'd be comfortable with the person's driving in that state.

            But I'd also say that with a new partner, it doesn't hurt to just be a little conservative about the whole issue and wait until next time. When you two know each other better, you'll have an opportunity to observe each other's drinking behavior and talk about your respective sexual boundaries.

    • No one's saying you need to be having sexy talk through the entire encounter. Enthusiastic consent can be as simple as "Shall we take this to the bed?" "Yes!" How is that f**king difficult? If you can't manage to say *anything* to someone you're about to have sex with, you have some work to do before you're ready to have sex at all. "I'm too shy to ask if my partner consents" is not an acceptable excuse for not making sure you have explicit consent. Your desire to have sex does not trump the importance of being sure your partner is fully consenting.

      As to the drinking issue, I'd look at it this way. People can do whatever they want *with themselves*. Person A can choose to go out and get drunk. If they've told Person B ahead of time that they want to have sex after getting drunk, no problem, consent has been established. But if A *hasn't* told B while sober that they want to have sex while drunk, then B has no way of knowing whether A has gotten drunk in order to have sex with fewer inhibitions or gotten drunk with no intention of having sex. And since B *doesn't know* whether there is consent or not, B should assume there isn't and not pursue sex with A. If that means A loses out on sex s/he wanted, well, then next time s/he should establish consent while sober. And as above, if A can't manage to give consent unless drunk, then A needs to work through that. Because for every person who gets drunk wanting to have sex, there are others who get drunk with no intention of having sex, or who would only consent to having sex with specific people, and prospective partners can't psychically know which is which.

      • You're right, that is *not* that dificult. But that's also not what's explained above. The Doc says, it's not about the Antioch code, but you still need to be able to perform sexy state breaks to check in and be certain of the page you're on at every moment of the encounter.

        "And as above, if A can't manage to give consent unless drunk, then A needs to work through that."

        Right, ideally, sure. But that's part of what I wrote about with respect to how this kind of advice is usually structured. It's not about helping person A to own their sexuality, but telling her she's doing it wrong. That's what annoys me so much about the advice in this respect, not the principle: The principle is fine (although I think there's too much puritanism in the alcohol related aspect, but let's disregard that for the moment), but the message is delivered in a privileged and condescending way without really offering advice on how to actually do it… teach people sexual communication wihtout telling them they're constantly at the risk of rape if they are shy about these things.

        • "You're right, that is *not* that dificult. But that's also not what's explained above. The Doc says, it's not about the Antioch code, but you still need to be able to perform sexy state breaks to check in and be certain of the page you're on at every moment of the encounter."

          Um, no, DNL explicitly says "Enthusiastic consent isn’t about a call and response for every step of the way". Nowhere in the article does it say you need to check in and verbally ask "at every moment of the encounter". You confirm verbal enthusiastic consent before you get started, and then as long as they continue to act enthusiastic, you're good. You're arguing about something that isn't in the article.

          "It's not about helping person A to own their sexuality, but telling her she's doing it wrong."

          Again, no. It's not telling person A anything. This article is directed at person B–the person who *knows* s/he's enthusiastic, and wants to make sure his/her partner is too. DNL has other articles on how to deal with sexual insecurity. He can't cover every single topic in every article.

        • Petra Lorre says:

          Luckily, Scarleteen exists. Don't let the word "teen" throw you – it's a good resource for the answers to basic questions. (By the way, the link is to a post discussing sexual communication.

      • Good rule of thumb in there: your desire to have sex doesn't trump anything. Ever.

        Except maybe sleep.

        • Paul Rivers says:

          Ridiculous, the whole plot in romance novels or movies half the time is that their desire for sex/romance trumps something else HUGE in their life. He doesn't move to England – because he can't live without her! She finally breaks away from her mother – because love is worth it! Etc etc etc.

          The only thing that your desire to have sex *doesn't* trump – is the desire of the other person to have sex with you. Your desire never ever trumps their desire not to.

          The movie "City of Angles", if I remember right, is about an angel giving up his immortality for a woman he falls in love with – when he does they have sex. Then she gets hit by a truck. Ridiculous, yes, but inline with how a lot of romance novels/movies go. You might say it's about the romance, not the sex, but it's not a coincidence that right after this huge sacrifice is always the point where they have sex.

          The idea that sex doesn't trunp anything ever is a very religious or conservative idea. People have the right to feel that way about their own lives if they want, but it's nowhere near the norm.

          • I actually think it is far more normal to think that sex doesn't trump everything. Is sex fun? Yes. Is sex an important part of many people's lives? Yes. But sex can't fix a dysfunctional relationship. Sex doesn't trump a job or a career or school. Might a solid relationship with a good attached sex life shape our career choices? Sure. Still doesn't mean sex does or should trump everything.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            The plot of most romance novels/movies isn't anywhere near the norm, either. You're right, though, you get to feel like and prioritize whatever you want as long as its not violating the rights of other sin the process.

          • fakely mctest says:

            Romance novels & movies /= real life. They're total fantasy. People are allowed to have whatever fantasies they want. How many people would actually want some City of Angels situation where their awesome sex partner is hit by a truck? NOT MANY.

            Also I'm really wondering how many romance novels you've read. Because you seem awfully disdainful of them, so I assume: a lot? Or is genre fiction only acceptable when it's in traditionally coded male genres like SF? Because Star Wars? Total soap opera.

            The idea that sex doesn't trump everything is a pragmatic idea put forth by people who realize that the Beatles were not making a documentary statement when they recorded "All You Need is Love."

          • Romance novels and movies are largely loads of sexist, gendered bosh. Often are actively harmful to women and feminist goals.

            Strawman slayed.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      If you aren't aware of what you want or are too shy to discuss it with the person who's going to do it to you, you need to do some growing up before having sex anyway.

      • Well, maybe, but then that is true for most humans and really not just with respect to knowing what they want with respect to sex. You don't need a phd in psychology or neurobiology to understand that *what humans really want* is a process much more than a state. And discussing that is *really, really, difficult*. Google the story of the Pepsi-Test if you want to, or stories about how the colour of the packaging makes people love or hate the taste of cookies. Now, you may say that all that is just *why* enthusiasm is so important, and that's true, but it's still requiring a standard of awareness that most people *may be claiming for themselves* but really don't have. Insisting that they always know what they want before trying *and are able to talk about it* is just dodging a tough psychological problem because it feels good to believe they do and are.

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          I'm not talking about some deep, existential whole being "what you want". I'm talking what you want in the sense of "let's have pizza tonight" or "I want to go see Oz then come back here and keep you up all night with wild, passionate sex".

          • Sure, but while that's practically easy, I don't think that's the level of specificity the Doctor was referring to despite his insistence that it's not about Antioch style escalation agreements. What you're referring to isn't going to help all that much when it comes to actually doing things, because the assumptions of what's included in "wild, passionate sex" may very well differ. I'm sure you've heard about this project – http://whereisyourline.org/ – and, to use another example from girls – was it sexual assault when Hannah once put her finger in the butt of he guy she was having sex with without asking? Different definitions of wild, passionate sex? Enthusiasm and still misunderstanding?

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            That's because I'm writing snappy summaries, not detailed examples. I can only assume you're being deliberately obtuse.

        • eselle28 says:

          I don't think that enthusiastic consent insists that everyone know what they want. If you or your partner are still in the process of figuring out whether you want to have sex, you should not have sex until you're more sure. Will that mean that people will end up making only perfect decisions and that there won't be any more misunderstandings at all? Of course not, but it does reduce the risk of people violating their own boundaries or other people's.

          As for talking about it, it's a skill and is something that people can learn to do. It's not fun to have the ways you were taught to do things upset, but people have shown themselves to be mostly able to do so. Think of all the subjects we've learned to talk about since the expectation that all women would be homemakers and all men would be breadwinners was upset, or since we started acknowledging that not everyone is attracted to people of the opposite sex.

          • "As for talking about it, it's a skill and is something that people can learn to do. It's not fun to have the ways you were taught to do things upset, but people have shown themselves to be mostly able to do so."

            I agree, and, again, I'm mostly annoyed by those preaching about these things without considering how their perspective may differ from most people's and not even offering useful advice on how to do it.

          • eselle28 says:

            I think of this as the first step in a conversation. Sometimes you need to convince someone that a problem is worth fixing in the first place before you can delve into ideas about how to do so.

          • The problem is that there aren't really a lot of specific ideas about how to teach that, in my opinion. I have the impression that there is a general trust that forcing people to do things, if only by applying moral pressure, will be sufficient. And I don't think so.

          • Not sure how old you are, but if you're old enough, remember when condoms became part of the mainstream conversation about sex? At first, the reaction to the idea that everyone should be using condoms was, "but it'll be awkward to have to talk about it!" "but it'll break the mood if we have to stop and put on a condom!"

            The challenge was getting people to understand that condoms were generally a good idea; once they were down with that, they figured out how to talk about it. Was there some awkwardness and some fumbling? Sure. But people can figure this stuff out!
            (If you're not old enough to remember this, well, it happened, and figuring out how to talk enthusiastic consent-style can happen too.)

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I agree, and, again, I'm mostly annoyed by those preaching about these things without considering how their perspective may differ from most people's and not even offering useful advice on how to do it.

            Its an article, not a book. Check the archives because it IS covered elsewhere.

    • eselle28 says:

      I think there is a real need for some models about how to talk about sex and boundaries – how to talk about wanting sex, how to talk about not wanting it right now, how to talk about being up for some kinds of sex but not others. It would be a good subject for a different article, if the Doctor is ever in the mood to write about it.

      But that doesn't mean that shy people get a pass on making sure their partners are consenting. People can learn and get better at doing this, and I think that before they even start, it's important to acknowledge that there's a reason for trying to learn these things. Also, I like to drink at least as much as anyone and have had to do some work to transition my way of starting new sexual relationships with people from drunken hookups to something a little more thoughtful, but if too sober is too sober, there's a problem. Unless you have substance abuse issues or only have sex very occasionally, most of your sexual experiences will happen when you're sober. People can figure out how to fight nerves and awkwardness with new partners without being drunk – it just takes a little work and practice, like everything else.

      • Again, I don't want my consent invalidated when I had a Gin & Tonic.

        "People can figure out how to fight nerves and awkwardness with new partners without being drunk – it just takes a little work and practice, like everything else."

        Yes they probably can. But no one's helping them actually do what they're being told is the right way to do it, while they're hearing that their sex is sort of inevitably immoral, if not accidentally rapey. Not fair, and not a good pedagogical approach. This is a completely gender-neutral observation, btw. I don't think the ability to talk about sex is inherently gendered, it's a matter of culture, and practice. And people need help on the way, they don't need attacks.

        • Personally I think it's more important that people realize having sex with someone who's clearly intoxicated is "rapey" and that they should make sure to get non-intoxicated consent in future than that we make sure no one ever feels bad about having made mistakes in the past. Why are you more concerned about the feelings of people who may have made this mistake than the feelings of the people who may have been raped by them–and may be in future if this isn't said?

          • "Why are you more concerned about the feelings of people who may have made this mistake than the feelings of the people who may have been raped by them–and may be in future if this isn't said?"

            Quite frankly, because I have been taught (in part by my feminist mother, but by the general discourse as well) to never make mistakes, to never risk anything, not even a kiss that may be unwanted, because of my assumed toxic and violent male sexuality, without anyone helping me to address the issue productively, and the result was sexual dysfunction and fifteen years of involuntary celibacy, and to this date, lack of a long-term relationship. I'm not disregarding the people who may suffer from people who make mistakes, in fact, my whole life was about making sure I don't make mistakes – even when they asked to be f***ked on the spot. But I feel that, in an abstract discussion, both sides need representation.

          • Sam, if someone is asking to be f**ked on the spot, then that is exactly what DNL is calling enthusiastic consent. Your problem isn't that you were taught to look for enthusiastic consent, it was that you were taught to be so cautious you never even tried. I'm sorry that your upbringing has affected you this way and caused so many problems, but your upbringing is not what DNL is advocating in this article. The other "side" you're representing is not actually an opposing side to what he's suggesting.

          • Not actually, no. Of course not. But there is an element of initiator-blame and risk avoidence in this discourse that I feel is going to cause the kind of reaction in others that it caused in me. And that is, I believe, a side that is not readily considered in this discussion.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            initiaor-blame?

          • Actually, the problem is that too often people (especially guys) focus on "but how am I supposed to have sex if I have to make sure she *really* wants it?". That side gets considered all the time, all over the place. Which is why people get frustrated that when someone points out that attitude is problematic, other people come in and complain that we're not being sympathetic enough to what's technically the status quo.

            And no one's saying don't initiate. The message is don't *keep going* unless you get enthusiastic consent. And yes, someone who keeps going even though the person they're with says no or acts uncomfortable should be blamed.

            I would much rather some people feel overly anxious and don't have sex and some people don't get raped, than some people not feel anxious enough and some people do get raped. People not being raped is a higher priority for me than people not feeling too neurotic to have sex.

          • Hey Mel-

            unsurprisingly, I have a partly different point of view here. I think most of the misunderstanding is about words and how it's difficult to actually understand what others mean when they say certain things.

            I believe that probably 99.9% percent of the people you quote who are asking that question are actually wondering about how they can logically be positively certain "she really wants it", because they thought about it and realized, there is no such certainty. There will always be a residual risk of misinterpretation of another person's externalization, however small it may be. And that mistakes can happen and are human. So they are taking the demand *literally* and are realizing that it's logically impossible to fulfil, which then rightly makes them ask the question: if I have to fulfil a logically impossible demand to have sex, how can I have sex?" And, I contend, for them, it feels like the people making that argument must realize that it cannot logically be fulfilled, which makes them question their fairness in even asking it that way. However, I would also contend that most people saying "be 100% sure" don't mean it as literally as it is said (because there cannot logically be 100% certainty), but they also don't really care about it if the argument is perceived in this overbroad way, because they aren't concerned with people making honest mistakes that they (assuming reasonable people) will usually be easily able to work out among themselves, but with predators, who they feel will use the mistakes/residual uncertainty aspect as an excuse when they actually weren't at all uncertain.

            I also don't think "that side gets considered all the time", I actually don't see that anywhere. As for the status quo, you may well be right about that – but the people who are asking this kind of question aren't the ones who are taking the status quo as a given. They are the ones who feel they are being told to be a moral person they must do something else, and yet that *else* is, at the same time, perceived as a logical impossibility, because it doesn't come with the qualifiers it needs, and which you sometimes get at the end of a debate like this one, 5 hours and 100 comments down a thread.

            Also, it's usually much harder to get an agreement on this online than it is in a personal conversation. What's great about online discussions – the wide range of people who can and do participate – is also preventing the creation of the kind of personal trust that is needed to understand what people are actually attempting to say.

            "And no one's saying don't initiate."

            This is exactly how it is often perceived. And in flirting, the requirement of enthusiastic consent is often understood as a requirement to constantly take the other person's emotional temperature, to never make decisions on one's own, to not do a lot of things that are subjectively effective and "empirically proven" to be appreciated by a lot of people (like, for one thing, being willing to lead an interaction).

            "And yes, someone who keeps going even though the person they're with says no or acts uncomfortable should be blamed. "

            Sure.

            "I would much rather some people feel overly anxious and don't have sex and some people don't get raped, than some people not feel anxious enough and some people do get raped. People not being raped is a higher priority for me than people not feeling too neurotic to have sex."

            See, the thing is, that's framed in a way that's impossible to not agree with, even for someone who was an involuntary celibate for fifteen years. So, there you go. But framing it that way is also unfair, because that's really not the only alternatives when it comes to talking about these things.

          • "I believe that probably 99.9% percent of the people you quote who are asking that question are actually wondering about how they can logically be positively certain "she really wants it", because they thought about it and realized, there is no such certainty."

            Well, actually, if you look at the other comments here, you'll see that the majority of the guys complaining about the idea of enthusiastic consent aren't concerned about it being impossible for them to ever be totally certain what "enthusiasm" is, but saying that most women are incapable of being anything more than completely ambivalent about sex (which is a far cry from being totally enthusiastic but what if I misinterpreted one thing), that most women will show overt signs that they're not enthusiastic when really they do want to have sex so you should go for it anyway (see above), that sometimes people act not so enthusiastic not because they're not enthusiastic but because they're nervous (which again, is not "what if I misinterpret their enthusiasm" but "what if I stop because they are clearly seeming unenthusiastic and it turns out I could have had sex after all!"), that they're worried they'll never be able to get a woman to even seem really enthusiastic to have sex with them, that it's okay to have sex with a woman not matter how drunk she is as long as she doesn't get angry later on, that it's babying a woman or being paternalistic if you expect her to say yes rather than just not say no, and so on.

            So no, I'm not mostly concerned about this idea of predators. I'm concerned about regular guys like the ones commenting here, who are not just worried about small misinterpretations but are looking for any possible wiggle room to excuse ignoring obvious *lack* of enthusiasm or other obvious consent issues. If there are this many commenting, imagine how many other readers there are thinking the same things but not bothering to comment.

            I agree with you that no one can ever be 100% certain of another person's true motivations and emotions, but focusing on that rather than the larger issue (which is *clearly* a large issue given how much people are arguing even the basic idea) is just undermining that larger issue. When 99.9% of the people in the world do believe that it's best not to have sex if you have reason to doubt that your partner's enthusiastic about it, then we can worry about the few obsessively-rigid perfectionists among us.

            "I also don't think "that side gets considered all the time", I actually don't see that anywhere."

            Well, you haven't looked very hard then. By "that side" I mean the side of "but how am I supposed to get sex?" Google "how to get sex". Even with quotation marks (so, that exact phrase), I get 3,830,000 results. Google "enthusiastic consent" — I get only 22,000. So yes, I feel comfortable in saying that talk about how to "get" sex is all over the place, far more than talk about how to make sure a person is going to actually be enthusiastic about having sex with you.

            "But framing it that way is also unfair, because that's really not the only alternatives when it comes to talking about these things."

            Great. Then please write up your own post on how a person can make sure their partner is fully consenting to sex that manages both to convince anyone who thinks it's okay to ignore obvious signs of discomfort or hesitation that this isn't actually okay, *and* doesn't make a single person anxious about the possibility that they might miss a sign and accidentally have sex with someone not fully consenting. I would be very interested to see how you accomplish that, because it seems to be that no matter what a person says on the subject, someone will still not get it and someone will still be anxious, and I'd rather err as much as possible on the making people anxious side than the people not getting it side.

          • Mel,

            "that most women will show overt signs that they're not enthusiastic when really they do want to have sex so you should go for it anyway (see above)"

            well, I think it would be fair to acknowledge that this kind of thing exists and that studies about this put the "token resistance" aspect among women at about 15%. Not the majority, of course, but certainly a significant number that explains the continued existence of that kind of uncertainty about female behavior. On the other hand, I don't think that most of people making that point are wondering about this kind of thing when it's actually about taking their clothes of, or in the LMR context also mentioned in the OP, I believe for most this isn't a matter directly related to sex but to the general process of flirtation or, romantic/sexual escalation. And that is important because the risk attached to making a mistake is very different when it's about mistaking something as a token rejection after saying hello and when it's about actually potentially having sex. These misunderstandings about the subject at hand, as well as the differences in associated risk are, alas, rarely appropriately reflected in this discourse, thereby making understanding more difficult that would be nececssary.

            "that sometimes people act not so enthusiastic not because they're not enthusiastic but because they're nervous (which again, is not "what if I misinterpret their enthusiasm" but "what if I stop because they are clearly seeming unenthusiastic and it turns out I could have had sex after all!")"

            Again, I the framing is les than optimal here – again, I'd start by acknoledging that this kind of thing exists but that addressing it is a better way than just risking being wrong. And I think this is exactly about worrying about misunderstanding what constitutes enthusiasm in that specific case. People are different, so they are going to have different ways to express consent and desire. Some are better than others at doing it openly and verbally,

            As for the "I could have had sex after all"-aspect, I agree that exists, and it's not helpful. I would, however, contend that the kind of "be 100% sure of enthusiasm"-discourse is not going to help this particular problem at all. Why? Well, I think it's because we live in a paradigm in which male sexuality is considered abundant and of relatively low value (to women) while female sexuality is considered to be scarce and of relatively high value (to men). Now I agree that rape culture is an aspect of that, but there's more to it, and as long as sex is something that women *give* and men *take* (as opposed to something we can give each other on equal footing) I doubt it will be truly possible to give men the feeling that their sexuality is something so valuable to give they don't want to taint it with a "dirty win" (having had sex in uncertainty about her enthusiam) and to give women the feeling they need to be active and enthusiastic in order to just get a chance at getting "some". I'm all for establishing that situation, alas, for a number of reasons, I don't think it's gonna happen over night, and, again, I don't think that this kind of dicourse is going to be particularly helpful in changing a lot of men's and women's mindset about this.

            Personally, I believe it would be more helpful to a) create a pleasure discourse (as opposed to a discourse that talks about the problems tied to sexuality before ever considering the positive aspects (be careful, it's dangerous, there's religious taboos, HIV, rape, but if you manage to avoid all mines on the field, you may actually like it)), and b) help men appreciate their sexuality, to find themselves *worthy* of female sexual attention, to believe they can be choosers, too. Many of the problems we're looking at here are a consequence of a "beggar-mindset" in many men. I know that's an even trickier part given rape culture, different sexual strategies because of different risk structures, and (very likely) a certain gender-disparity in sex drive, but I don't see how we're going to ever be able to truly solve this thing without increasing the subjective value men attach to their sexuality.

            End of part 1.

          • Part 2

            "Well, you haven't looked very hard then."

            Actually, I have.

            "By "that side" I mean the side of "but how am I supposed to get sex?" Google "how to get sex"."

            And by "that side", I mean guys who are unhappy with the status quo, would like to do something about it and ethically increase their odds of getting laid, and they usually get told "you're doing it wrong" and "don't rape". No wonder a lot will feel represented by the old SNL skit about "Sexual harrassment and you" ("be attractive, don't be unattractive"). This is the downside of the feminist no-cookie policy, in my opinion. It prevents change instead of promoting it.

            "I would be very interested to see how you accomplish that,"

            Breaking stuff down is usually a good way. With respect to my considerable problem with respect to initiating kissing, this would be a way – look, you're gonna have to live with the rest of uncertainty, and that's ok, because people make mistakes, and that's part of learning. But don't drive too fast while you're using training wheels or you're gonna fall and hurt yourself and possible others. That's why they're called training wheels. Good thing is: You are likely to deal with reasonable women, who, at that point, are likely to have chosen a couple of times to put themselves in a position that indicates they may want to be kissed, even if they don't ask for it. So don't always pretend to think for them and project your mental uncertainty and then reject yourself before even trying. Even if you don't want to ask verbally, or think that asking would be awkward, kill her enthusiasm, because it would expose your training wheels, or because you don't know how to do it in a sexy way. If you've danced with her, held her, if she alredy sort of sat on your knee while dancing and she isn't a professional dancer, you have a couple of good indicators that you can try. Then increase the tension by looking in her eyes for while, eventually move in slowly, give her all the time to react, and don't move in all the way, so it's always *her* who puts her lips on yours in the end. You're offering, and she's accepting the offer by actually kissing you, but it will still conform to the logic (she probably has internalized) of you being the initiator. Now read and rehearse. It will likely take a while before you can take off the training wheels, but it's worth it.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:


            And by "that side", I mean guys who are unhappy with the status quo, would like to do something about it and ethically increase their odds of getting laid,

            wait for it. . .

            wait for it. . .

            here it comes. . .

            check the archive, that's what 1/3 of this blog directly addresses. There's one letters article, one issues article and one article on how to get better at relationships (including sexual ones) per week.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            A lot of guys in the target audience of DNL have the problem of being afraid to be forward because they might come off as creepy, rapey, stalkery or whatever. Another large group expects a refusal to be a terrible, friendship killing thing. That does suck but you'll find if you. . .wait for it. . .check the archive that those issues have received in depth coverage in the past. Its quite possible to be a decent person, be quite forward about what you want and still do quite well.

          • Robjection says:

            I'm feeling strangely kind right now so I'm gonna help him a little: Start here Sam.

          • Absolutely. Affirmative. (But that, I'm sorry, doesn't mean that there aren't any problems with this discourse, or that they should not be pointed out.)

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Sure. I was pointing you towards articles that might be more on topic to your stated interest, not saying STFU. :)

        • eselle28 says:

          Your consent isn't invalidated. I'm just deciding that I'm not consenting to have sex with you after you've had that gin & tonic. That's my right, isn't it?

          It's one article. There are others in the archives, and there may be more to come. But it would be tough to start this discussion without at least clarifying what the problem is.

          • It is, but if the reason is my having had a Gin & Tonic, then you're also declaring my consent invalid, regardless of my level of enthusiasm.

          • Robjection says:

            Is it really that hard to give consent without the Gin & Tonic? If so, that sounds rather unhealthy. If not, then what's the problem with waiting until you're sober to decide whether to consent or not, and assume "not" until that point in time?

          • eselle28 says:

            In that situation, I don't know either way if you can consent. Perhaps in your head, you're thinking perfectly clearly and are dying to head to the bedroom. But if you can't communicate that to me clearly, either because you appear to be drunk or because you're shy and giving me mixed signals, then I don't want to have sex with you. You wouldn't want to coerce me into having sex I don't want, would you?

            I've been on the other end of this, and it's not that big of a deal. I'm not capable of being very enthusiastic about anything until I've been awake for a few hours, and if it's ridiculously early, I'm probably not up for talking in words and sentences either. However, I do like morning sex. My current FWB turned me down for it initially, because he wasn't sure I was actually awake. He didn't invalidate my consent. That was happening in my own head, and he had nothing to do with it. He just wasn't giving his own until I could express my consent a little more clearly. Which I did, when we talked about it and I explained that before 7:00 or so, "Mmmmmph" meant "yes" and an elbow and rolling over meant "no."

          • No, I understand why you wouldn't want to have sex. I've been there, and I've pisse of women who asked. But at the same time, I know they felt pissed off and I know I'd feel very pissed off if I said "I want you" and you said "I want you, too, but sorry, I can't believe you, because you're unable to state what you want right now."

          • eselle28 says:

            You don't need to say it like that, though. You can just say, "Not tonight," or "Goodnight." Or you can deescalate things so it doesn't seem like you're right on the verge of having sex anymore. Or, if you've both been drinking, you can group yourself in with her and talk about how you've both had a little much.

            Then you have sex on the next date, when you haven't been drinking so much, or if you're both drinkers you sit down and have a conversation where she tells you that she's good until she's had 5 or 6 but gets pretty wobbly after that..

          • Believe me, I'm an expert at not risking things and talking myself out of it, but I still know that it sucks, because it would suck for me, too, if I felt my clearly stated interest would be invalidated.

          • So it would bother you to have your stated interest to invalidated, but it doesn't bother you to apparently be invalidating someone else's reasonable discomfort with having sex with someone who isn't sober? Why are your boundaries more important than the other person's?

          • Can't follow… as I said to Esselle, I complete understand she woudn't want to, because I wouldn't want to either, I still know how it sucks if I tell them no, because I know it would suck if she told me no (because I she felt I was too drunk).

          • eselle28 says:

            Have you considered that not everyone would react to this the same way you would? I'd note that most of the women responding have indicated that they like this model. We're a small and self-selected crowd, but at least some people wouldn't be hurt by this.

          • Feeling disappointed and feeling that your wants have been "invalidated" are different things.

            You want to have sex after drinking. Your date says she'd rather wait until she's sober. According to you, this feels like her invalidating your interest.

            Look at it from her perspective. She's out with a guy who's been drinking. He proposes sex. She feels emotionally uncomfortable with the idea of having sex with someone who isn't sober, so she says no. If you get upset at her for this, aren't you trying to invalidate her discomfort, by saying she shouldn't feel that way?

            A person isn't going to say no because they're trying to invalidate you; they're going to say no because they personally would not feel okay with it. You don't want them to have sex *they* don't feel okay with, do you?

          • No, I don't, and I don't get upset. That's different. As I said, I understand why she wouldn't want to, because I wouldn't want to take the risk of believing her in that situation. But if the risk is about my ability to consent it still sucks and will feel like my consent is invalidated. There's just no way around it."

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Sucks a lot less than having your non-consent invalidated.

          • No doubt, but it still sucks.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            No doubt, but suck it up.

          • CaseyXavier says:

            And does it even matter if she 'invalidates' your consent in this instance, because Mel pointed out, SHE is uncomfortable with going forward with the encounter? Let's say you're out with a woman, she has a few drinks, she initiates, but you are unsure if she's impaired and thus unsure if this counts as 'enthusiastic consent'. You back off, it goes nowhere. At that one time.

            Later when you're both sober and completely unimpaired, you can re-initiate flirtiness and mention that you really wanted to go further but wanted to make sure she was really okay with it in the cold light of day. Smile. Be warm. She can then thank you for your being respectful and leave it at that, which would reinforce your decision to stop, or… she can thank you for being respectful and tell you that yes she does want to go further with you, which ALSO reinforces your decision to stop. Because now you've shown her that you are someone who will watch boundaries and respect them and is someone who doesn't want to cross lines, and she's more likely to want to hook up with you.

            You don't have to get super-awkward about it or put her on the defense or put her through the third degree. Stopping the one encounter doesn't mean future encounters are out.

          • "Stopping the one encounter doesn't mean future encounters are out."

            It doesn't really matter, because it's a matter of my own preferences, but it often means just that. It may be true that I wouldn't be able to handle sex with women who feel that way, but while I have more choice than a lot of guys these days and am thus able to have and "enforce" my own set of standards, it's stll not like it doesn't suck to lose opportunities like that. Again, losing them is preferable to not losing them, but it still sucks.

          • eselle28 says:

            It didn't suck for me, and I wouldn't if the reason was drunkenness instead of sleepiness. The enthusiastic consent model goes both ways. If someone's not comfortable having sex with me in whatever my current state is, it's not going to be very good and might end up violating some of his boundaries. Why not have it some other time, when we can both feel good about it?

          • Robjection says:

            Really? I thought it was more like "I want you too but I want to wait until you're not under the influence of alcohol just to double-check that your consent is not merely the result of the alcohol causing you to lose your inhibitions." Better safe than sorry and all that.

            EDIT: Or what eselle said above me.

          • CaseyXavier says:

            I really like that phrasing. It still shows intent and desire, but also respectfulness without being all 'look I just want to make sure you ain't gonna cry rape tomorrow morning'. It's hard to imagine who would argue with that, except those who are actually quite impaired anyway.

          • Or even better, "I want you too, but I want to wait until you're not so sloppy drunk because I know the sex will be way more fun for both of us. Raincheck?"

          • Well, no one said you had to say it in a patronizing way. If someone said, "I'll feel more comfortable if we wait until we're both sober", would you be pissed off at them for that? You don't make it about what you believe they're capable of, you make it about what *you* feel comfortable with. Anyone who gets pissed off at you for not having sex when you're uncomfortable isn't someone worth having sex with anyway. (Consider: how would saying you don't feel comfortable having sex unless the other person's sober be any different from saying you don't feel comfortable having sex unless you use a condom, or unless there's somewhere private for you two to go? Would you think it's okay for someone to get pissed off at you for stating either of those boundaries?)

          • A girl once got mad at me because I told her I had rejected sex with another girl, telling me saying no is a female prerogative… actually, while *I* don't get upset, I can also understand why a woman would get upset. I mean, these interactions usually happen in a setting where there has been heavy flirting, possibly light physical contact. Saying "no" at that point will suck for any reason, and probably more so if it's suggesting that it's because I don't trust her – which it essentially comes down to if she says yes and I say, sorry, you can't say "yes" (whatever the words, she'll probably understand). So, yes, bizarrely, while I'd think it would not be ok for me to get upset, I'd consider it ok for women to get upset, and I'm not sure why.

          • Well, the girl who got mad at you was in the wrong. "No" isn't a female prerogative. Just like women, men are allowed to decide they want to stop a physical encounter at any point during that encounter, for any reason. It's their body too–they don't owe it to a woman to keep going if they want to stop, any more than a woman owes the same to a man.

          • This! NO ONE should ever have to have sex they don't want to have. The right of a person, male or female, to not have sex ALWAYS trumps the desire of a person, male or female, to have sex with them. Period. End of story.

          • And I told her as much. The point is not that she was wrong, it's that we have to deal with the world (and the female expectations) we're dealt. This friend later moved to Israel and when I visited told me how she loved that men there actually knew how to handle a girl (as opposed to those all-talk-sissies she was stuck with before), that is, they take her "like she wants to be taken". It sounds like cheap EL James fanfic, but it's a rather common attitude among a lot of girls.

          • And my response to those women is that they're ruining everything for everyone else. Both men and women are instilled with patriarchal attitudes from very early on.

          • If someone doesn't want to sleep with you because they're not sure your consent is totally consensual, then that's about them not being comfortable with the situation. You can't tell someone else they should be comfortable with having sex with someone who's been drinking–that's setting *their* boundaries for them.

            If all you've had is one Gin & Tonic, and you're by all appearances fully functioning, then no one is going to invalidate your consent if you do consent and have sex by prosecuting your lover as a rapist the next day.

      • Pervocracy is a great site that shows some examples of models. Here's one post about this: http://pervocracy.blogspot.ca/2012/01/rescripting

  21. thebutterfly says:

    As a technical point, 2-3 standard glasses of red wine could easily put you over the drink-drive limit in the UK (depending on gender, age, weight, stress), but I wouldn't worry too much about your average person's ability to enthusiastically consent to sex at that point (obviously there will be exceptions).

    Basically the levels at which you can safely drink and then drive are far lower than people imagine.

  22. Gentleman Johnny says:

    A concept so simple, an English teacher can explain it in one class period – http://accidentaldevotional.com/2013/03/19/the-da

  23. BritterSweet says:

    Thank you so much for bringing up the "what-ifs" and "…yes" vs "YES!" Especially the latter because sadly, whenever rules or guidelines are set, people will inevitably search for ways around them. Just saying, "yes means yes" is still not clear enough for these boneheads. There are always those assholes who will reinterpret something or miss the point to a degree that it just has to be intentional.

  24. Paul Rivers says:

    If you're a geek or a nerd who's having trouble even finding a date, let alone sleeping with someone, and you're reading this and thinking "Oh, I'll try to do that" – you need to STOP and realize that a lot of this article will make you WORSE with women, not better.

    The article mentions socialization, but what it doesn't tell you is how strongly women are socialized to NOT EXPRESS enthusiasm towards sex, or to feel bad about desiring it.

    To quote another commenter from the other day – "wait, did he pop the let's have sex question in their first meeting? cuz damn, son that ain't right – she's not a hooker" – it's a strong sentiment among women that a women who wants to have sex "to soon" is doing something wrong, aka a hooker.

    Slut shaming from something recent – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EU20JnsYiXc&fe

    Have you ever been talking with a bunch of guys about how cute some girl is, everyone is having a good time, then a girl joins the group and goes "that's disgusting" that you're even talking about something remotely related to sex? That's the world women often live in – where discussing or acknowledging sexual things is frowned upon. Where her expressing enthusiasm towards sex is always eyed with a response of "you don't want to be THAT kind of girl do you?".

    Do you know when I stopped being the constant beta-orbiting "always the friend, never the boyfriend" friend to girls and started having sex and a girlfriend? When I started treating girls like adult human beings who were fully capable of making yes/no decisions, or saying no to things they didn't want to do, while acknowledging that they lived in a world that made them hesitant to express unabashed enthusiasm towards sex or even dating, especially the first time.

    It was when I stopped buying into the model in the above article that assumes women's emotional state is something to be treated like a fragile glass slipper that I'm soley responsible for, and assuming that yes, she was actually capable of saying something if she wanted to stop. You ALWAYS respond to her saying she wanted to stop by stopping. But I was a lot more successful – AND the girl I was dating started having a lot more fun when I stopped worrying if I was "accidentally pressuring" her into something. She was an adult – she could make her own decisions, and say something if she didn't want to do something.

    But I also had to realize that because she didn't want to do something now, that didn't mean she wouldn't want to do it later. Or that because she didn't like doing something I was enthusiastic about, didn't mean that it was "bad" to express my enthusiasm about it – it's like with anyone, there's a point where you need to just let it go, but that point is not the very first mention of it.

    • Paul Rivers says:

      The above article claims that you need "clear and unambiguous signals that he or she wants to fuck"…

      First, don't mistake this for needing clear and unambigious signals to make the first move (like kissing her) on them. You need *some* signals that she's actually into you, yes, don't be an ass and go making moves on girls who aren't sending you some sort of positive signals. But often if they really like you they'll also often be giving off signs of nervousness, hesitation, or restraint – a result of the liking you but feeling like they can't make the first move or they're not "supposed" to. If you make a move and she says "no" and moves away – back the f!@#!@ off. But if you wait for a ton of enthusiasm and absolutely no nervousness or hesitation on her part, you're going to be waiting a long time.

      Second, as much as I would LOVE to have unbridled enthusiasm the first time you're going to sleep together, it's unlikely. Enthusiasm – yes. "grab me and take me" – I've gotten that for sure, but always with someone I'm already sleeping with. Usually it's more mixed signals – she wants to, but also feels like she's not supposed to want to. She wants to, but she doesn't feel comfortable with the feeling of wanting to yet. Etc etc etc. You have to treat her like an adult – she has the ability to say no, and if she does then back the f!#@! off. But "signals" that suggest maybe no maybe yes at the same time are – what often happens.

      The problem isn't about looking for a "definite" yes – the problem happens when you start to get into concepts of "unambigous" signals. Usually the first time the "yes" signal is mixed with other signals of hesitation or nervousness. Or you start to get into worrying that "yes doesn't always mean yes". Or you start worrying – am I "pressuring" her into having sex with me because I'm talking about sex or stuff?

      • Paul Rivers says:

        I stopped being the constant "always the friend, never the boyfriend" guy when I started acting like women where human beings who could make decisions for themselves, but that they were socialized to be uncomfortable and inconsistent about talking about or wanting sex. And you know what? Women themselves started really liking me a lot more when I started treating them like that.

        And even so – I had several relationships, one of them lasted 2 years. But I'm single now. The people in relationships that lasted? Well, my friend from college met his now-wife at a beach party with some friends. He offered her drinks, she got drunk, they made out of a lot (but didn't sleep together). She's sitting next to him with a big grin on her face while he's telling me this story, and she's chiming in with how awesome this was. They seem very happy with each other and they have a kid. It's extremely clear from the other details of their story that had they not clearly crossed into at least kissing territory that he probably would never have seen her again though.

        A friend of mine from high school met his now-wife by sending her a kind of nasty message. I don't really recommend that approach, but it worked for him. So they went out several times. He wanted to sleep with her, she kept turning him down. Finally, he decides he's had enough and he's not going to see her again after this. He doesn't say anything – but suddenly she walks into the room and says "let's have sex". Now they're married, and have a kid. Not 100% if they're happy – it's not as good as my first friend, but they're both a little bit of adversarial people, so I'm not sure where that's going.

        Another friend of mine from high school met his now-wife in a role playing group (it might have been d&d). He was interested in her, wasn't sure if she was interested in him. They ended up back at a dorm, he went to use the bathroom, when he came back she had dissapeared. They met again at another game, and this time things went somewhere (I don't remember the details other than that it went into clearly "date/boyfriend" territory). But what if he had taken her dissapearring the first time as a sign that she wasn't into him and backed off? She says that the reason she dissapeared was that she really liked him, but had somehow gotten the impression that he had a girlfriend (which he did not – at all).

        Don't sit there and microanalyze details to look for any signs she's not "really" consenting.

        • I don't even know where to start with this. So you feel your experiences contradict what the article says. Fine, why don't you just say, "I don't think this is necessarily good advice" and explain why, rather than stating outright that no one should ever follow it because it will definitely be bad for everyone?

          Women are socialized not to show enthusiasm for sex, you say? Are they not also socialized to avoid disappointing people and feel uncomfortable saying no? Why is one more important than the other, in your mind? Why should we assume a woman who doesn't seem comfortable with sex is enthusiastic but having trouble showing it, rather than that she's not enthusiastic but having trouble letting the guy down? How are you treating women as adult human beings if you assume they can say "no" when they don't want something, but that they *aren't* capable of saying "yes" if they do want something?

          Apparently you think it's more important that guys have sex, any sex, than that the women they have sex with are totally into it. No, guys shouldn't be paranoid and ignoring clear enthusiasm because there's some tiny signal they're not sure about. No one said they should! It's *not that hard* to tell whether someone's into sex or not. Nervous interest and discomfort *do not look the same*. It is *not* more important for you to have sex right now than to respect obvious signs that a woman isn't totally okay with what's going on. Why would you even want to have sex with someone who's so uncomfortable with sex that they can't help seeming uncomfortable even when they are actually fully consenting? Why on earth would you think it's more important for you to get to have sex in that moment than to avoid the obvious risk that she's not into it, not going to enjoy it, and going to feel awful about it after?

          (And by the way, your examples don't even relate to your point. The first guy did the right thing by not having sex with someone who was drunk–and she doesn't seem to be complaining that he didn't, the second guy waited to have sex until the woman expressed overt interest–exactly as it's supposed to work, and the third guy didn't push sex, he presumably just tried talking to her again. Who said you're not allowed to talk to or flirt with someone after one odd and inconclusive occurrence?)

          • I have had enough experience with women to know that enthusiastic consent is a disastrous model for sex if you ever want to get laid.

            "Apparently you think it's more important that guys have sex, any sex, than that the women they have sex with are totally into it. "

            Getting laid is the beginning. A satisfying sexual relationship is the end. And yes I think the satisfying sexual relationship IS FULLY FUCKING WORTH the chance she might not enjoy it the first time you have sex. Bad sex never killed anyone.

          • OtherRoooToo says:

            "I have had enough experience with women to know that enthusiastic consent is a disastrous model for sex if you ever want to get laid. "

            Um, no.

            Judging from what you've written here, you have *not* had enough experience with women.
            There is not enough "experience with women" in the entirety of the universe to justify a callous, pompous, and last but certainly not least, intensely damaging pronouncement like that.

          • "Enthusiastic consent" doesn't have to mean "having super awesome amazing sex." It means you are certain that both parties want to be having the sex they're about to have. I'm assuming that your last paragraph comes from such a misreading of what enthusiastic consent means, because otherwise it sounds like you're, er, suggesting nonconsensual sex as a great relationship-starter.

          • Kleenestar covered this pretty well, but since you're quoting my comment…

            By "totally into it", I meant totally want to proceed, not totally satisfied by the outcome. When a woman engages in sex, especially with someone she's never been with before, she generally knows she may not totally enjoy the experience and that there'll be some learning curve, and is enthusiastic in spite of that. If a woman isn't into you enough to want to take the risk the sex might not be great, then no, it's not "worth it" to coerce her into sex on the assumption she'll like it more later. She has just as much right to decide what's worth it to her as you do for yourself; her interest matters just as much as yours does.

            If she does think a sexual relationship with you will ultimately be satisfying, presumably she can make the decision for herself to risk bad initial sex and still enthusiastically consent to starting the process. And if she isn't enthusiastically consenting, treating her like a mature human being means assuming she can make her own decisions about what happens to her body, not deciding you know better and whatever happens is fine as long as no one gets killed. :P

    • BritterSweet says:

      Do I even want to touch on this…?

    • This is kinda terrifying. I'm pretty sure you just admitted that you're ok with sex without consent.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      Do you know when I stopped being the constant beta-orbiting "always the friend, never the boyfriend" friend to girls and started having sex and a girlfriend? When I started treating girls like adult human beings who were fully capable of making yes/no decisions, or saying no to things they didn't want to do. . .

      You had me right up to that point, because its pretty much true for me, too. The difference is i do just fine without having to add qualifiers that women are socialized to say no when they mean yes.

  25. This article is paternalistic and ignores the sexual agency of women, and sums up what I think is an overall problem with the blog, which is how it proposes irrational ideas that are far more idealistic in nature than they are realistic.

    By your standards, a person would have to refuse every single sexual encounter where their partner has either had a few glasses of wine, or isn't uninhibitedly and visibly enthusiastic about having sex despite the fact that this isn't how most women behave in bed.

    On a side note, I've noticed something about my nerd peers which is a tendency to rely on moral guidelines in order to compensate for their inability to perceive social subtext, and I just can't help but feel like a lot of the idealistic stuff that Nerdlove is suggesting is related to this cloaking of social ineptitude or lack of charisma, since I don't understand how any of it would ever work in real life, outside of maybe nerd circles.

    • eselle28 says:

      It doesn't ignore the sexual agency of women at all. A woman can want what she wants, but it's not as if she has some right to her partner's body after she's had a few drinks. If she wants to have sex with him, she can make a move in the morning or initiate a discussion about what "too drunk" looks like for her and what her boundaries are. If a man turns down a woman because she's sober but kind of listless, she can turn things around by communicating that she's interested in having sex.

      This model actually expects a little more of women because it asks us to learn to talk about the fact that we want sex. I think it's a good thing.

      I'll allow that I was never in the popular clique, but it always seemed to me that there were roughly the same number of date rapes there that there were in the nerd circles. Somehow social awareness and charisma didn't work in those cases.

      • I'd like to reply to your comment but I don't understand it or how it relates to what I'm saying. I think you're maybe misunderstanding what I said, but I'm not sure.

        • eselle28 says:

          It doesn't ignore the sexual agency of women to tell them that if they want sex, they need to communicate that they actually want it. Rather, it's empowering. It requires women to learn to talk about wanting sex, but that's a good thing. The old model, where men make advances and women maintain plausible deniability about whether they actually wanted to "go that far", is the paternalistic one.

    • How many women have you been in bed with, exactly, to know how "most women" behave?

      I'm shy and socially awkward, and I've still always managed to show enthusiasm and clear interest when I wanted to have sex with a guy, including the very first time. Most women are perfectly capable of showing enthusiasm. What's paternalistic is assuming that women can't show visible enthusiasm and so men should just have sex with them regardless since those silly womenfolk just aren't capable of consenting properly. :P

      • I'd find it far more likely for women to be inhibited than the opposite, so I'd trust my own experiences over Nerdlove's.

        I've had women get pissed at my insisting that they clarify their sexual intent, and about as many telling me afterwards that they didn't really want to have sex but did so anyway. Even my relationship with a sexually liberated feminist proved to be as hard as pulling teeth when it came to getting an explicit clarification of interest, even though she often told me I made her frustrated by never touching her without her consenting.

        No matter what kind of girls I meet or how much I try to build comfort and get clarification, it's never as easy as Nerdlove suggests, and that's why I refuse to believe that it's a reasonable approach to sex.

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          I'd find it far more likely for women to be inhibited than the opposite, so I'd trust my own experiences over Nerdlove's.

          This is a good example of non-evidence for your proposition on how most women act. You trust your experience but there's no real reason for others to. You're just some letters on a screen to us.

          I've had women get pissed at my insisting that they clarify their sexual intent. . .

          sure, and I've had friends who don't like chocolate. It proves nothing about people and chocolate.

          and about as many telling me afterwards that they didn't really want to have sex but did so anyway.

          How many is "just as many", exactly? Because if its like one of each, that's one thing. If its half of your sexual encounters as one and half as the other its quite a different thing and speaks directly to your ability to be empathetic with others.

          Even my relationship with a sexually liberated feminist proved to be as hard as pulling teeth when it came to getting an explicit clarification of interest, even though she often told me I made her frustrated by never touching her without her consenting.

          This may speak to what women want, it may speak to your style of securing consent or none of the above. Without more detail, I honestly can't make anything of it.

          No matter what kind of girls I meet or how much I try to build comfort and get clarification, it's never as easy as Nerdlove suggests, and that's why I refuse to believe that it's a reasonable approach to sex.

          Starting a new sexual relationship isn't easy, you're right. However, refusing to believe that enthusiastic consent is reasonable because it is hard is both lazy and troublesome.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      I think its more that moral guidelines are easier to convey than social subtext in an article. As said elsewhere, its obvious what enthusiastic consent looks like even without words but its not something you can convey with words. But honestly, I can't imagine how you can't imagine a world where people can talk about their desires and don't have sex with someone unless they are sure that person is also into it.

    • Thereal McCoy says:

      This is relevant to your situation
      http://captainawkward.com/2012/12/03/401-i-cant-t

      • No, it's completely irrelevant to my situation. There's nothing in that article that applies to what I've been describing aside from the very idea of vagueness.

        • "It’s not surprising that she might not have actually fully internalized that she gets to refuse sex with you, since she says no all the time and then finds herself having sex with you anyway."

          This is why women don't refuse you. It's not because women are conditioned to be vague. It's because, extrapolating from your behavior here, you don't listen when they refuse you.

          • Ah, but of course. I don't share your opinions, so therefore I must be a rapist.

            One moment please while I phone up past girlfriends to invalidate their sexual experiences by apologizing for not understanding that their inability to behave in the way that Nerdlove is suggesting is an indicator of sexual disinterest, and that all of our sexual encounters were therefor forced.

            Yep, makes sense.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Actually, she's quoting that because its been your tactic here with everyone who disagrees with you: keep insisting you're right. Its entirely reasonable, based on the little we know of you, to assume that this is your normal mode of operation. Its one thing to be an over-sensitive 90's guy who makes sure that a potential partner is comfortable. Its another entirely to use the same words as that guy to badger someone until they agree with you to shut you up. So far you haven't shown much concern for others to us.

          • Online discussions != real life behavior.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Online attitudes are often good indicators of real ones.

          • Not really. There's no telling exactly which side someone is expressing online, and even if someone's online attitude did indicate their real life attitude, they still wouldn't be able to express it due to the lack of anonymity and consequences to bad behavior.

            So I'd recommend not assuming that someone's real life attitude/behavior is the same as their online discussion style.

          • fakely mctest says:

            Wait, did you just cop to trolling?

          • What does this even mean?

            Stop with these idiotic one-liners. If you have an argument, present it. If you don't want to discuss this, then go somewhere else. You're just cluttering the thread, which I'd say is closer to trolling than what you think I'm doing.

          • Admit it, you're just bothered that your "arguments" can be picked apart with little more than a short sentence.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Sadly, its all we have to go on. We can take your insistence that you're really a great guy at face value or we can work from the behavior you're actually showing us. You're used to being the smartest person in the room, aren't you?

          • The question you need to ask yourself is how is this even relevant. Just stick to the issue, and address my arguments with arguments. Don't make weird assumptions and assume that it's somehow relevant to the topic we're debating.

          • eselle28 says:

            It's relevant because we're talking about communication with partners and its difficulties, and this has given us an example of how you communicate.

          • No, because you're completely misunderstanding my description of the sexual encounters I've had. There's no way for you to know how they played out, so just drop it already.

            Again, as I've said a million times now, head over to Mel's thread if you want to discuss this further, and stop badgering me about my sex life. It's creepy as fuck and you're creeping me out.

          • eselle28 says:

            What you said to Mel isn't really that profound, nor is it consistent with most of your other comments. If you'd like to address that to me, more specifically, that's fine, but saying twenty times that you've covered it with Mel isn't a response. If people found that response to be noteworthy or relevant, they would have replied to it.

            You brought your sex life into this, and it speaks to your credibility on these issues. You've made very broad claims about the way women behave based on only your observations of your own sex partners and have also made rather sweeping dismissals of certain subjects as being simplistic. And if so many people are misinterpreting your descriptions, that suggests a fault with the descriptions, not with people's reading of them.

          • I brought my sex life into this assuming that we were both talking about Sex 501. Apparently we aren't, and therefor my examples aren't relevant.

            Hence, drop it.

          • eselle28 says:

            But your examples weren't 501. They're problematic on all the levels.

            And throughout this thread, you've made a meandering set of arguments that throw out gripes about how you'd still be a virgin if you followed the enthusiastic consent model, generalizations about women's passivity, this paternalism argument that none of the women feel is insulting, and now this claim that it's really more complicated than that and that this is all too simple.

            I'm having a great deal of trouble reconciling the last point with the earlier comments about still being a virgin. If you'd like to concentrate on that rather than on your apparently badly-chosen examples, we can. Because it doesn't seem like you're actually on board with the idea of getting enthusiastic consent from your partners, and are looking for a means of dismissing something that might be unpleasant to follow.

          • Again, I was coming into this discussion assuming that "enthusiastic consent" was an oxymoron, since that's what you'd think if you believe in the theory I just presented. So under my assumption, the women I've been with wouldn't be able to consent in a way that's satisfactory TO ME even if it would be satisfactory TO YOU by YOUR definition, and the reason why they've been able to express once or twice that they weren't as into it as they'd like to be is because they TRUSTED me because I was more empathetic than most guys they've been with.

            How the hell is this hard to understand?

            DROP IT PLEASE.

          • eselle28 says:

            So skip the first line, and talk about the rest.

            Your other comments don't seem to reconcile with this theory either. Really, given what you've said, the only solution to you never being able to trust a woman's consent whether she appears enthusiastic or not would be for you to refrain from having sex, period. But that doesn't seem in step with your early comments, which complain that enthusiastic consent would make it difficult for couples to have sex.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Then make an argument that's supported by more than your opinion.

            By the way, I'm going back to replying to each of these individually since we're within spitting distance of making this the most commented article and i think its really important that it be near the top of the DNL reading list.

          • eselle28 says:

            "I don't really feel any enthusiasm besides their following my lead, so I always end up pushing the question until either of us get annoyed, or we end up having sex which is usually good or great, but sometimes end with her telling me that she didn't really want to do it or that she lost interest halfway through without telling me, but still wanted to do it "just because".

            It's not all too uncommon for women to pretend to be interested even if something happens before or during the act that kills their buzz, like suddenly becoming self-aware, feeling fat or being reminded of something negative, and even if you can somewhat feel that the atmosphere has changed, it's not noticeable enough to justify ending the intercourse, especially when you're being convinced that nothing is wrong.

            Instead, they'll let you know afterwards what they were thinking during the act, and the feeling of having slept with someone you later learn didn't really want to is FREAKING HORRIBLE, even if it's not that big of a deal to them."

            This is where things veered in the direction of your personal life. According to this, you're somewhat regularly having sexual encounters where you end up arguing with the woman about whether or not she's uncomfortable, or being told after sex that your partner wasn't really into it. You use words like "annoyed" or "FREAKING HORRIBLE" to describe these encounters, but when people suggest that the problem might be either the women you choose to date or the way you talk about sex with your partners, you counter that you have a good sex life.

            It seems like the response you're looking for is something along the lines of, "Oh, isn't that always the way women are? Sucks, doesn't it. But there's not hing to do about it, so just ignore this enthusiastic consent stuff and keep doing you." But you're not going to get that, at least not when you're talking to people who have managed to have sexual relationships that don't include people having sex "just because." And the more you insist that there's nothing wrong, the more it starts to sound like you're similarly closed off to other people's thoughts when you try to talk with your partners about sex.

          • No, you're misunderstanding my point.

            I'm not saying STOP LOOKING FOR CONSENT.

            I'm saying THE PROBLEM IS STILL GOING TO BE THERE even if you are looking for enthusiastic consent.

            I think this discussion has derailed, but I hope this comment can clarify it. :)

          • if this is your fundamental issue with the article, you have done a remarkably poor job of conveying it. Seriously, starting with the argument that women never demonstrate consent is just going to piss off everyone, which I think you noticed.

            And if you're going to say enthusiastic consent is not a valid way to deal with the issue of coercive sex and rape culture, I'm going to politely k you what would work better?

            Sorry for typos, on mobile device…

          • In honesty, I thought that people here would be inherently aware of the ways in which women can show what Nerdlove defines as consent but still feel bad about encounter, and I assumed that their understanding of how women approach sex would be deeper than some kind of binary idea of ACCEPT/DECLINE.

          • Are women sometimes going to have issues that make having sex difficult for them? Sure. But that doesn't negate the enthusiastic consent model. I want to encourage all people to speak up about what they want and don't want sexually because that's pushing for a better interaction than making assumptions and trying to mind read your partner. Perfect? Ne, but better than the alternative.
            What do you think works better than asking for direct happy consent to sx? What model is more likely to ensure both people are getting the sex they want?
            And dude, I'm a heterosexual woman. I have a pretty good idea of how we approach sex. And I've still found your comments problematic.

          • What I'm disagreeing with is the "want to encourage" notion, because it's a bad idea to introduce ideals on an individual level.

            Another problem is the "sometimes going to have issues" part, because there are so many factors that can cause women problems despite having given enthusiastic consent. If you're looking for more details about that, read my response to Mel on the topic about social conditioning a couple of threads above this one.

            And yes, of course it's better to look for enthusiastic consent rather than looking for a "no", but to me that's discussing the issue on a rather basic level considering the large number of problems associated with the "consent" model as well.

          • So you don't want people to speak up about their sexual needs? Yeah I don't think that is what you're trying to say rondy but that's how it's coming off. Can you clarify there?
            You have admitted that this modl is better than the "well they didn't say no" idea. And you haven't offend any alternative. So…the problem is?

          • The problem is, as I've said in another thread, is that this is the relationship counterpart to telling a parent that feeding their kids is the best model for proper parenting, so I don't understand why Nerdlove isn't exploring more important territories.

          • eselle28 says:

            So what do you feel is more important than not raping people? Because this is a problem, and it's one that a lot of people here feel is an important one.

          • Hi. Nowhere am I claiming that some insignificant issue is more important than not raping people.

            THANKS.

          • The "enthusiastic consent" model of sex is meant to SOLVE many of the problems that arise from social conditioning and the problems that many of us encountered in the past when we weren't trying to live by "enthusiastic consent."

            But what do I know? I'm just a single anecdote (who has slept with over 30 people of both genders), helpless against the overwhelming weight of all your superior anecdotes.

          • So people should adopt the enthusiastic consent model, err on the side of not having sex when someone seems uncomfortable, and then above and beyond that, strive to have open communication with their partners so that they can address any lingering issues that come up after the fact? I'm all for that.

            If you mean that looking for enthusiastic consent isn't worth the time because women are too socially conditioned to ever show true enthusiasm, then I'm not on board with that. If you mean that stopping an encounter and arguing about whether someone is comfortable or not is a good model of looking for enthusiastic consent but doesn't always work, then I'm not on board with that either.

          • We agree on what the healthiest approach is, but if my purpose was to teach unintentional offenders about consent, I sure as hell wouldn't write an article about "enthusiastic consent" and call it a "good model" without delving into the more important territories.

            It's like telling someone to feed their kids every day and call it a good model for proper parenting. If someone needs to actually be told this, then there are far more important issues that need to be addressed.

            The reason why I called the article paternalistic and why I said it ignores the sexual agency of women is because it puts emphasis on perceiving consent from the woman while the woman might not even want the consent to be defined by whether she appears enthusiastic or not.

          • eselle28 says:

            I don't understand this analogy. People who don't know to feed their children everyday generally have them taken by social services. There isn't an agency out there that can confiscate people's genitals. And, as is clear from this thread, there are lots of people who need to work on this, and they are out there dating and having sex with people.

            I'll note that it's fairly amusing that the two people going on about how this robs women of their sexual agency are both men, and that most of the women here seem to like this model. I would much rather that a man not have sex with me and then wait until some later time to talk about what consent means to both of us than push right on through what he sees as passive non-responsiveness. Making sure everyone is okay with everything isn't paternalistic – it's being careful and considerate. I'll also note that women have this same duty to their partners, regardless of gender.

          • So what happens when one of these people who need to be taught about enthusiastic consent encounters a woman who is pleasing him on her own expense, because she's been taught to do so by society? Is the guy, considering that he's not empathic enough to understand the difference between consent and unenthusiastic consent, going to be able to connect with this woman through awareness of her circumstances?

            What if he's hooking up with a girl in a bar, and they head home, and she loses interest but feels she's too far gone into the situation to back out, and doesn't want to disappoint the guy? How is he going to be able to tell, since she'll most likely fake enthusiasm?

            You don't think it's important to address the issue beyond making sure the woman seems enthusiastic?

          • eselle28 says:

            You're talking about Sex 201, a class where you learn how to create an atmosphere with your partners where you each can talk about your sexuality without worrying there will be relationship consequences, tell the difference between fake enthusiasm and real enthusiasm, and seek out sex positive partners who are willing to participate equally in this.

            Sex 201 is a great class. Everyone should take it. But you have to take Sex 101 first, where you learn about consent and then about enthusiastic consent. The fact that there's a more advanced class out there doesn't mean that Sex 101 isn't one of the core requirements. I'd note that earlier in this conversation, you didn't even think these basics were important and seemed to justify powering through a partner's lack of enthusiasm as a natural consequence of social conditioning.

          • Sex 201 isn't rocket science. It's being a decent human being. If you're a person who needs to take Sex 101 (or as I like to call it, learning to have the decency to not rape a woman) you're totally fucked up in the head and desperately need to be force-fed Sex 201 in combination with Sex 101.

          • eselle28 says:

            Rondy, I read yesterday's and Friday's conversation. You're not always making sure you have enthusiastic consent from your partners, so you don't pass Sex 101. You also aren't seeking out sex positive partners, having conversations about sex where your partners feel like they can actually say no, or doing a good job of telling whether your partner's consent is real or fake, so it doesn't sound like you've even started Sex 201 yet.

            You don't get to stand up on a platform and say that everyone should be concentrating on Sex 501, where we…I actually don't have any idea what you think people should be learning about consent, but whatever it is, they need to stop creating situations where their partner says she had sex "just because" before they get to that point.

          • There are so many misunderstandings and misconceptions about your assumptions of my sex life that I don't even know where to begin.

            I'll just refer you to my responses to Mel, and ask you to drop your constant analyses of my personal sex life.

          • That's hilarious, coming from someone who was the one who brought his personal sex life into this in the first place – AND tried to use his personal sex life as some kind of credibility boost over everyone else. Now you're unhappy we're picking your "credibility" apart. Suck it up, buttercup.

          • "There isn't an agency out there that can confiscate people's genitals."

            I LOLed. There probably should be. ;)

          • How else do you imagine women might want consent to be defined than? If a woman knows she's so nervous about sex that she will appear totally unenthusiastic even when she really wants to have sex, I'd suggest that she should TELL her partner that, and let him know she'd like him to continue unless she explicitly says otherwise.

            Are you really saying that that kind of situation is so much more likely than one where a woman shows a lack of enthusiasm but doesn't feel comfortable saying no? So much more likely that it's unreasonable to err on the side of assuming someone who appears uncomfortable with having sex probably IS uncomfortable with having sex? Because if so, I think you are very, very wrong.

          • You're half right. You might be a rapist, but it's not because you don't share our opinions (also literally no one said that and don't even pretend like they did). It's because it's starting to look like you won't take "no" for an answer.

          • You are completely misinterpreting my comments, but I can see why, so let me clarify.

            What I am trying to tell you (the people I'm arguing against), is that your idea of what enthusiastic/active consent means still isn't a clear enough indicator that the woman is actually interested or feels good about the sex, and I've been giving you examples of how, when living by your definition, things can still go wrong.

            The reason why this has turned into an argument is because when you read my comments, you are taking it as if I am doing what, by your standards, is "ignoring a no", but that isn't actually what's happening here.

            So to be very, very clear about this:
            1. I am personally extremely careful not to make a woman feel threatened. My approach is soft, compassionate, empathetic and gives the woman lots of room to say no. There is no doubt about it, and I don't think anyone here would disagree if they were able to sit in on one of my encounters. :P
            2. I am already following your (again, the people I'm arguing against here) definition of "enthusiastic consent". Probably more so than most people here.
            3. I think Nerdlove's suggestion is bullshit because social conditioning and the difference in the male vs female living condition adds a lot of complexity that "enthusiastic consent" isn't going to be able to cut through, and the reason why I called Nerdlove's article paternalistic is because it tries to decide how women show consent, while ignoring that it might not even be a matter of clarifying consent in the first place, and that there might be more suitable approaches.

            Is this clear enough?

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            A lot less paternalistic than assuming women are so damaged by social conditioning that they can't express their desires so its the man's job to read their mixed signals and decide what they mean for her.

          • Guy, stop being such a wanker. We're discussing the well-being of women and how to avoid bad sex, not who's right or wrong to call someone paternalistic. Is the latter even relevant? No, so who gives a crap.

            And yes, I think I'm being less paternalistic by saying that maybe it isn't a matter of getting enthusiastic consent, because maybe there are more things to consider that this approach doesn't cover.

            In other words I'm not saying that this or that is the correct approach, but I'm saying that yours is making assumptions about women and is therefor paternalistic.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            And I'm saying that so is yours and that yours is also more likely to lead to rape if presented as a general guideline.

          • No, it couldn't lead to rape because I am ADDING to what you are already suggesting, while you are calling it quits after scratching the surface of the problem. If you're still not sure about what I'm trying to say, read my responses to Mel in the thread a couple of steps above this one.

          • Are you now? You've yet to suggest a single additional thing a man should do to make sure his partner actually wants to be having sex.

            So, on top of listening to her words, not badgering or pressuring her, and paying attention to her signs of enthusiasm or lack thereof, what else? What should he be doing?

          • deezers says:

            What are the things? The more things, what are they?

          • For someone who is so concerned with paternalism, you sure do ignore the opinions of an awful lot of women on the subject.

          • Alright. So, you're a "nice guy." How quaint. There's nothing wrong with painting yourself as a real Casanova, but you come off sounding more like a Quixote.

            Lets clear up this whole mess you've created and seem hell bent on perpetuating, rondy. From what you've written so far you seem like you know how to get enthusiastic consent ("me thinks the lady doth protest too much"). And that's great, but it means that you aren't the target audience of this article. Well, not directly.

            Sadly, Dr. Nerdlove can write an article about the necessity of gaining enthusiastic consent because there are people walking around right now who don't care if advances are welcome. They just want the satisfaction of sexual conquest. They want to get the number of women they've slept with into the double digits, or try to sleep with a woman from every country they've been stationed at, or be able to say with confidence to their peers that they slept with the hot girl from home room. If that's not you, STFU!

            You are damaging the well intentioned and so called paternalistic nature of this article. It is beyond obvious that there are people who feel justified in violating another's free will and coercing them into a less than desirable or even non-consensual sexual encounter. This article is for them. This article is paternalistic because those kind of people need some help realizing that they're doing it wrong! The definition for enthusiastic consent here needs to be simplistic because this kind of person is simplistic (at least emotionally).

            Your attempts to disassemble and invalidate the simple point this article is trying to make (take no for an answer when given) does nothing but give people who want to rape the justification they are looking for. So, stop acting surprised that it is being suggested that you support rape. The only reason to criticize this article is if you do.

          • I'm sorry then, for assuming that Nerdlove thinks as high of nerds as them being functional adults.

            I guess I should take my Don Quixote-crazy fake-Casanova white-knighing Nice Guy-claiming that there's-more-than-meets-the-eye-when-it-comes-to-the-topic-of-consensual-sex elsewhere, because it's obviously complicating the issue when I suggest that people can have feelings that run deeper than what they appear to be expressing.

            Good luck educating all those peanut-brained nerds out there. God speed.

          • Jesus, you're smug. You're right, you are an intellectual powerhouse, Cyril, whose ideas concerning consent, social conditioning, and debate, are so far in advance of our own understanding that they appear – to us – to be vague and riddled with inconsistencies. It's the price all visionaries have to pay.

            While we're at it, while your massive intellect apparently has assimilated the idea of enthusiastic consent (well, I think, I can't even tell whether or not you agree with it), a lot of people haven't. I mean, look at Steubenville: those guys didn't actually think they'd committed rape. They don't understand the model. And while I'd like to think that the geek community is beyond that sort of thing (you seem to, anyway), it's sadly not. It needs to be addressed, the sooner the better.

          • deezers says:

            Supreme flounce, I love it

          • Bets on how long it's gonna take before his ego can't resist checking back on this thread? I give him a day and a half.

          • Nope.

            1. Great!
            2. Great!
            3. What?

            You say that you, inherently, seek out what is, by our definitions, enthusiastic consent, and that this is the right way to go about having sex? Then you say that Nerdlove's suggestions to do what you are doing is bullshit? Because that is a little hypocritical.

            Or are you saying that Nerdlove's definitions of what enthusiastic consent is, are wrong? Because this is a really unhelpful and roundabout way of saying that (also you're wrong; there isn't a precise definition of enthusiastic consent. Just be empathetic, is what we're saying).

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      OK, you want your arguments addressed, let's go. This isn't an end-all, more defining my points of contention and giving you a wide open space to approach this as a rational discussion.

      This article is paternalistic and ignores the sexual agency of women, and sums up what I think is an overall problem with the blog, which is how it proposes irrational ideas that are far more idealistic in nature than they are realistic.

      The core of this article boils down to the sentence "Enthusiastic consent is fairly simple. It’s the idea that while “no means no” is important, getting a “yes” is even more important."
      Considering the number of people who think that being passed out implies consent, this is an important message. Yes it needs more detail but we'll get to that. This in no way ignores a woman's sexual agency, it insists that she show some agency if she wants sex instead of just going along. Note what the quote actually says. That's not idealistic. That's realistic.

      By your standards, a person would have to refuse every single sexual encounter where their partner has either had a few glasses of wine,. . ."

      This has actually been discussed elsewhere. The key is "judgement impaired", which is something that requires an awareness of and sensitivity to the state of your potential partner. I'll just assume we're more or less on the same page or will never agree because its already been done to death.

      or isn't uninhibitedly and visibly enthusiastic about having sex. . .

      Considering the other option, that of having sex with someone who is not visibly enthusiastic, this is a much better guideline for people who will penetrate an unconscious woman than "no means no". Its a pretty good guideline for everyone. Note I said guideline, it gets a little sticky in some places but that is A) covered in the article and B) yours to bring up specifically in this rational discussion.

      despite the fact that this isn't how most women behave in bed.

      You have thus far presented no evidence of the fact that "most" women behave this way and it is one of my core disagreements with you.
      I have only the experience of myself and the people I know to go on. The same applies to you, of course. So either we're at an impasse or you can try and find some credible evidence. Me, I don't care about convincing you of anything, only showing lurkers that your worldview isn't the only one, so the burden is on you.

      On a side note, I've noticed something about my nerd peers which is a tendency to. . .

      just putting that up for context

      since I don't understand how any of it would ever work in real life, outside of maybe nerd circles.

      I think I've expressed elsewhere how that works in real life but I'll be happy to provide additional examples of how enthusiastic consent really works.

    • For the record I'm going to leave this discussion entirely. There are too many commenters who are more interested in trolling or expressing a sense of superior understanding of the issue while failing to grasp its full picture. It's too time-consuming trying to reason with individuals who are unable to move past a point that has been explained and elaborated on ten times over, and it seems to me that people here are more interested in "winning the debate" than having a proper argument.

      Thanks to Mel for being the only person who understands the dynamics of a proper debate and sorry I couldn't see it to the end. Everyone else can give themselves a pat on the back for understanding how to nitpick a discussion to death (as if that's not something I could easily do in return) and completely obliterate any chance of coming to new insights.

      • Gentleman Johnny says:

        Surprisingly good timing, that.

      • FLOUNCED

      • Yes, despite you never providing any solid evidence to back up your argument and calling anyone who disagreed with you too many times a jerk/wanker, it was definitely everyone else who didn't know how to debate. Definitely.

      • hahahahahahahahahaha this is just an elaborate comedy routine, right?

        Because you really have to see the irony in you complaining about other people nitpicking discussions to death, being unable to move past a point, and being more interested in "winning the debate" than anything else? Right?

        But seriously, maybe next time try to not be so awful at communicating your point. And maybe, just maybe, admit that what you're arguing for is wrong, at least a little bit.

      • Anthony says:

        You probably won't read this. Whatever. I've spent 4 god damn hours reading this article now, mostly because this thread pushed it to have so many replies. I can basically boil your attempts to discuss down to a few sentences.

        Some women have been socially pressured and influenced throughout their lives to have very confusing, conflicting, or problematic views towards sex. It's a good idea to get consent, but one needs to be aware that sometimes enthusiastic consent isn't always honest. This has been my experience a few times, and it really impacted me negatively. I think when talking about consent, this needs to be brought up. Other people have intimated similar things (although not necessarily the same opinion), so I've formed the theory that women can't be clear about their enthusiasm because of said social pressures and influences.

        Now, rondy won't be reading this because he's gone, right? But if that had been his initial post, would this thread of 400+ replies not have been…maybe 20? It would've been the actual discussion instead of just a slow, meandering stroll through a freaking forest of mystery. And I can't tell you how much I was hyped up by the time I got to his almighty "thread with Mel" to find out that it was…a list of social constructs that he thinks influences women to the point that they can't express themselves properly on first sexual encounters.

        rondy, why are you the way that you are? I hate so much about the things you choose to be. Had you not gone for a ridiculous opening statement, and went in to this debate looking for an actual debate rather than simply just responses, people may have actually agreed with you on that one aspect. For the record, though, I think you're vastly overestimating the number of women who can realistically fake enthusiastic content well enough that the other person can't pick up on it. You consistently bring up the mainstream woman during one part of your discussion (although she miraculously disappears), and I'd just like to argue that the "mainstream woman" is a serious minority. Our society is so complex with so many groups and different influences coming from different mediums that for a woman to really fit the definition of mainstream, she'd practically have to grow up in a nuclear silo. Like Mel, I can't recall and instance of women being told not to be truthful about whether or not they want to have sex with a person. And I don't believe that all of those pressures and influences that you brought up are enough to have the impact that you're positing. But that's fine. We can just disagree there. We both still agree that enthusiastic consent (oxymoron or not, which it isn't and can't be, unless a woman consenting to sex means she's going to be unenthusiastic about it, or an enthusiastic woman can't consent to things) is a good thing. This article was about helping the scarily large portion of the population that doesn't fully grasp what rape is, and in its current form, is necessary. Someday, the article you want might be written. Nothing stopping you from writing it, but it ultimately doesn't take away from this article.

        Also, I think having idealistic views and trying to live life by them and holding others to those standards is the best way to grow as a society. So talking about the world in an idealistic way, so that people start having those idealistic expectations, will actually help change society. But, again, we can just disagree there.

        One last thing: is overly-sensitive 90s guy an insult that I haven't heard before? If so,it should be a meme.

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          One last thing: is overly-sensitive 90s guy an insult that I haven't heard before? If so,it should be a meme.

          I hadn't thought of that before so I put "sensitive 90's guy" into Google. There's only a few hits, but there's a lot more for the overly sensitive guy in general. Its about as stereotypical as "alpha" in its definitions but in the opposite direction – a clingy, demanding, physically unimpressive, passive agressive, easily upset emotional vampire who is uaually an artist or musician (can play three chords on the guitar). Its in the model of the original mopey scruffy grunge guys who followed in the wake of Curt Cobain's popularity. I wish I had read this earlier so I could have gone into this a bit with Rondy.

      • I said it above, and I'll say it again for anyone who checks back on the thread: Your behavior in this thread speaks extremely poorly of your ability to listen to anybody who disagrees with you in real life, including the women you've slept with. You only liked Mel because she indulged *your* childish insistence on writing at you in whole paragraphs and treating you as if you were worth talking to like an adult – and she couldn't even keep that up for long once you guys got into it. Extrapolating from that, then, you probably only like women who agree with you at all times and your definition of horrible sex is a woman who didn't make you feel like you were awesome and completely right in all ways. All of this raises major red flags about your conception of true consent or, indeed, not being an overriding wishful-thinking asshole.

      • Robjection says:

        So long and thanks for all the unsubstantiated claims. If you ever make up your mind as to what exactly you want to propose, just remember to support your idea with links to studies that show that the arguments you make for your proposal are true. Because if you don't, I will pounce on those arguments you did not produce evidence for, they will be ripped to shreds and your entire proposal will tip over and crash.

  26. Or, possibly, you're not willing to accept there's a more problematic level than you seem to believe.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      Sure, there's a problem. The problem is that people are culturally taught not to discuss their desires, women are shamed for wanting sex, men are shamed for not wanting it and "no means no" qualifies as consent to most people. Its called rape culture and its more than can be covered in a short space.

      However, I will again attempt to seriously answer you. After establishing that "hot, passionate sex" is on the table, sex has clearly been consented to. The details can then be discussed as part of foreplay. Again, if you can't talk about it, you probably shouldn't be trying it.

      • "Again, if you can't talk about it, you probably shouldn't be trying it."

        Again, while I agree with the benefits of sexual communication, and worked hard to improve my own, this is the kind of attitude that I resent most in this discussion, because it does not help the *vast, vast* majority of people who have no idea of how to do that. Instead it is shaming them for doing it wrong. "If you can't talk about it, you probably shouldn't be trying it" is a discourse-element that's part of the problem, not part of the solution, in my opinion.

        • I don't understand why you think so many people don't know "how" to do this. They don't know *how* to ask, "Will you go down on me?" or "Can I come inside you?", really? I think these are pretty simple sentences that anyone with a basic grasp of their language should be able to construct.

          I suspect the problem isn't that they don't know *how* to ask, it's that they're nervous about asking for fear the other person will say no and maybe even be offended they asked. Being afraid that the person will say no is never a good reason for not asking; in fact, that's the exact reason you *should* ask.

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          OK, I stand corrected. "If you can't talk about it you should probably learn how to talk about it instead of just sticking a body part up another body part and hoping its ok."

          Could I teach that? Yes. Can I do it in text, in my spare time for free? No. Check the archives.

        • "I'm learning how to overcome my shyness" is never, ever, ever an excuse for anyone to do something without their partner's consent. Nor is it an excuse for their partner to do something without their consent.

          I had a lot of sex back when I was too shy to open my eyes during sex, much less emit any talking noises. You know what happened? Terrible sex that I still feel creeped out about thinking about it, considering how little my consent had to do with anything that happened, even with partners who tried to care. I really wish my partners had done the grown-up thing and tried to get me to talk *before* doing anything intimate. And if that would have deprived Shy Me of sex? Tough luck, Shy Me. That's just the world we live in.

        • Paul Rivers says:

          ""Again, if you can't talk about it, you probably shouldn't be trying it."

          Again, while I agree with the benefits of sexual communication, and worked hard to improve my own, this is the kind of attitude that I resent most in this discussion, because it does not help the *vast, vast* majority of people who have no idea of how to do that. Instead it is shaming them for doing it wrong. "If you can't talk about it, you probably shouldn't be trying it" is a discourse-element that's part of the problem, not part of the solution, in my opinion."

          Omg – you really hit the nail on the head there! I wasn't even sure why exactly I was uncomfortable with that, but you really described it.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I do get what you guys are saying but I'm saying that given the choice between uncomfortable conversation and an unannounced finger up my ass, I'll take the former.

            Also keep in mind that this is a valid conversation:
            Do you like X?
            I don't know, I've never tried it.
            Would you like to?

        • Wait… What? I'm not the most outgoing person, but even I could pose "want to have the sexytimes?" questions. Here's an easy primer based on an actual real life conversation.

          Boy-I-Like: So, finished that season of Dr Who, what do you want to do now?
          Me: Have sex. You keen?
          Boy-I-Like: Absolutely.

          IT IS ACTUALLY THAT EASY IN REAL LIFE. THE SEX WAS HOT.
          (If he hadn't wanted to have sex, or had been a bit unsure, I would have suggested playing guitar hero.)

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          Again, while I agree with the benefits of sexual communication, and worked hard to improve my own, this is the kind of attitude that I resent most in this discussion, because it does not help the *vast, vast* majority of people who have no idea of how to do that. Instead it is shaming them for doing it wrong. "If you can't talk about it, you probably shouldn't be trying it" is a discourse-element that's part of the problem, not part of the solution, in my opinion.

          OK, so I'll rephrase one more time –
          If you want an explanation about how to communicate specifics about sex, check the archive because that is covered in a different article. If you haven't learned that yet, you really should. Assuming consent because you're too shy to suggest something or because she's too shy to say she doesn't like it leads is a bad idea.

  27. From where do you get the idea that a woman will reply to "Want to have sex?" with explicit or implicit consent? Because that just doesn't happen, and that's also why you have to ask women to really clarify what they want, to the point where they sometimes get pissed (i.e. annoyed) with you.

    And despite that, they can still do things like lose interest halfway through and not tell you about it until afterwards, which pretty much makes you feel like a rapist, despite your best efforts to make her feel comfortable and offer her an opportunity to back out at any point.

    In my experience, women just aren't very good at communicating in bed, and that's the problem I'm trying to point out.

    • Robjection says:

      Maybe you're just trying to have sex with the wrong women?

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      Its your experience that's an issue, not the communication ability of women as a whole. Its rather difficult to diagnose specifics based on a comment thread on a blog.

      • I don't think it's illogical to assume that women as a whole might appear inhibited or be bad at communicating or expressing their sexual needs given the way that they're socialized. Also, Paul Rivers seems to be discussing the same issue in the thread above mine.

        I see nothing however, that supports the idea that women are clear and explicit about their intentions during sexual encounters, other than a couple of people on here claiming the opposite.

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          And I see nothing that supports the idea that they aren't besides a couple of claims. . .sorry, dude, its the Internet. I can't pull a group of horny women out to demonstrate. HOWEVER, you might want to consider what real women in both threads are saying. Chances are they're not lying about how they personally communicate.

          • You seen nothing besides a couple of claims? Did you miss the part where I brought up the way women are socialized to be inhibited and unassertive?

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            That'd be a claim.

          • And it's not a reasonable one?

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            No more reasonable than the part where actual women are claiming that despite this societal conditioning, a woman (as opposed to girl) is capable of taking charge of her own sexual agency and communicating it. No more reasonable than my claim that women are well rounded human beings, not just balls of instinct and conditioning, and should be treated as such.

          • Actually, it's far more reasonable to believe in the conditioning of an entire gender making it more likely for said gender to correspond with certain characteristics.

            Especially so when this is confirmed by every sexual encounter you have had, a lot of the sexual encounters that your friends have had, and when the only women claiming not to share these characteristics are ones coming from a subcommunity (the geek scene) where the entire point is to not follow the norm.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Ah, now we're bringing in personal evidence. Well my personal experience contradicts yours completely. Now we're back to both making claims with no real reason for the other to believe them. Then again, I have mostly dated geek girls because geeks are fucking cool.

          • You're once again ignoring the social conditioning factor, so I'll just mention that and nothing else with the hopes that you won't miss it once more.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I'm not ignoring it, I'm saying my experience directly contradicts it. You're ignoring the free will of mature adults factor.

          • That makes no sense. We all agree that social conditioning exists and that it's likely to affect people, so why would your experiences in the geek community, i.e. a culture that directly opposes norms, contradict it in any way?

          • Robjection says:

            Because you weren't claiming it was likely to affect people. You were claiming it was certain to affect all people to the point where there are no deviations from it.

          • Robjection says:

            You do realise that, in using hyperbole, you actually ended up arguing a completely different thing to what you were apparently trying to argue? Moral of the story: hyperbole has no place in logical argument.

          • It does have a place, and there's nothing wrong with using nuanced expressions when expressing what is an otherwise clear point.

          • Um, hyperbole is the opposite of a nuanced expression. Nuanced = subtle. Hyperbole = exaggeration. There is something wrong with greatly exaggerating your case if you're going to argue with people for pointing out that your case is in fact exaggerated.

          • He was talking about using anything but logic in a logical argument. I tend to use both nuanced expressions (to a larger degree) and hyperboles (to a lesser degree) and I've never had any misunderstandings until now, as the point should be quite clear still.

          • Your case of wishful thinking in all things borders on delusional. Maybe it *is* delusional, I dunno.

          • Rondy, the question isn't "does social conditioning exist and affect people?" (which we do agree on), but "what is social conditioning encouraging us to do and to what extent?" (which we don't). Just because we agree that social conditioning exists doesn't mean that we have to agree it prevents most women from being at all enthusiastic in bed. That's a pretty big leap.

          • Yes, but what I'm trying to say is that social conditioning regardless of how deep it goes counts one point towards the likelihood of my case to be true rather than the, in my opinion, idealistic and unrealistic notion of people being oh-so-diverse to be true.

            It's okay to generalize, really.

          • Er, that's like me saying that the social conditioning of men to be aggressive counts as a point toward the likelihood that most men will commit rape. I mean, yeah, it's a point, but when your conclusion is as extreme as "most women are totally incapable of being explicit about sex", you need a heck of a lot of points before anyone's going to agree with you.

          • Yes, it does count a point toward the likelihood of men committing rape.

            And I'm not saying that most women are totally incapable of being explicit about sex, but when looking at situations like casual or first encounters, I'd say it's pretty reasonable to expect women to be uncandid about their feelings.

          • Robjection says:

            I notice how you didn't say it counts towards the likelihood of most men committing rape. Perhaps you realise now that claims about majorities need a lot of substantiation.

          • Okay, you keep moving the bar around. You didn't start out saying that this only applied to casual or first encounters, you've been making claims about most women with sex in general. If you only meant casual and first encounters, you should have said so rather than blanket statements like "women are bad at communicating in bed".

            And by the way, you *did* claim that most women are incapable of being explicit about sex in all situations:

            "I'd say I have enough experience on the scale to safely say that if there's one thing they all share, it's an initial sexual inhibition and a total inability to be sexually explicit at ANY point in the relationship"

            In which you were referring to the 20 women you slept with, using them as proof that most women are this way.

            If you don't actually mean these things, perhaps you should consider, oh, not saying them?

          • Yeah, that's my bad. I stand by my point about women mostly being unable to be sexually explicit as I don't think they're comfortable initiating or expressing what is typically reserved for men.

            What I meant to say was that I believe women can initiate sex or sexualize, however, the more comfortable she gets with a man.

            And yeah, I was assuming that we were talking about casual and first encounters here. Why would there be any need to discuss enthusiastic consent when the likelihood of this being an issue decreases the longer you've been in a relationship with someone?

          • Robjection says:

            Well, DNL did dedicate a whole section of this article to enthusiastic consent in the context of an established relationship, so …

          • I didn't see anything in the article indicating that it was talking about established, long-term relationships. But maybe I missed that.

          • Robjection says:

            See the section titled Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!

          • Yeah but in the context of "Getting A Yes" I assumed we were discussing the context of first sexual encounters between men and women, whereas the long term relationship-part was just a side note and somewhat of a different issue altogether. I wouldn't call it the highlight of the article.

          • "I stand by my point about women mostly being unable to be sexually explicit"

            In that case, I have nothing further to say to you.

          • So you think that a woman is likely to approach a man, either during the first few encounters or in a relationship, and be sexually explicit?

            Because I find it far more likely for the woman to be INDIRECT, by perhaps asking the man to come back to bed, or to cuddle, but never by being sexually EXPLICIT.

            You don't think this is the case with most women? In open honestly?

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            in order:
            Yes
            I can't speak for most women but I would say it is the case for most women I would sleep with.

          • We're not talking about approaching. We're talking about showing enthusiastic interest in sex. I honestly believe that most women are capable of explicitly giving enthusiastic consent when they are indeed enthusiastic about having sex, and will do so if they have a trusting and relaxed relationship with their partner. I've already discussed my reasons in detail elsewhere, which is why I see no point in continuing to repeat them.

          • Yes. But, like Mel said, approaching isn't even required. Responding enthusiastically to someone else's advances also meets the requirements, and even a shrinking violet should be able to be able to whisper an excited yes back in response to some dirty talk.

          • Its called marital rape, check it out. Pretty messed up, huh?

            So, you don't like the paternalistic tone of this blog, but your attitudes are that women are meek and would never turn down sex with a committed partner.

            I can't imagine why anyone would feel like you need a paternal role model who actually asks a woman whether or not she wants to have a penis thrust inside her vagina.

            Your anecdotal evidence does not prove that women are uncomfortable initiating sex or as a group posses the qualities of meekness to which you attribute them. It proves that you are attracted to those kind of women, and have been unable to form even a passing relationship with a strong, self-reliant and confident woman.

          • The claims you are inferring from my comments are not what I am saying. If you want a clear explanation, scroll down to my discussion with Mel about social constructs.

          • Who is being paternalizing here, Gentleman Johnny who advocates that women are full well capable of developing individual personalities through experience (and societal conditioning affects people to very different degrees and in different directions. It's not as simple as you like to paint it in your head) or YOU who is practically advocating that those silly women who don't know any better get formed like clay sculptures into not admitting what they really want, so you don't have to respect their voice? Please, grow up.

          • What's paternalizing is the idea that it's up to the man to decide what constitutes as enthusiastic consent, and what makes the sex "okay" vs. "assault". In my opinion, there's a lot of things that can make a woman consent to sex in the way that Nerdlove is suggesting which could still cause her harm, so who is Nerdlove to say what is a good measuring stick for healthy sex?

          • "What's paternalizing is the idea that it's up to the man to decide what constitutes as enthusiastic consent."

            Yes, that is exactly what the "No means no"-rapey model is, it puts it up to the "active" party to decide whether sex is happening or not. Doctor NerdLove advocates a model where both parties show enthusiastic consent and respect if sex is to happen. I'd advise reading the article again – slowly.

            Now, which exact parts are you having trouble with and what damage do you imagine is done to a woman by not forcing sex and not initiating it unless you have confirmed that the other party is equally willing? The enthusiastic consent model is not paternalizing at all, on the contrary, it assumes that both participants are grown adults that give a clear "Yes" if they want to have sex. Now to help with that, men are advised to show more respect and pay attention and to ask rather than assume. This leaves your partner the emotional space to not give into pressurings about sex they don't really want, ergo you don't have to be confused. There is nothing remotely difficult about this. I'm starting to think you're arguing for the sake or arguing and/or have an agenda of your own you're trying to justify without calling it for what it is – sexism.

          • What I'm saying is that the enthusiastic consent model is scratching the surface of a more complex issue. I thought everyone here were aware of it. If you're interested, I'm discussing it a couple of threads down in my response to Mel in regards to social conditioning.

          • Hey! The very definition of geek is about being "anti-cool"!

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            The reductively silly definition. Geeks have unpopular interests, they're not Bizarro people. An American geek still has more in common culturally with a "mainstream" American than they do with a Czech. They eat the same food, drive the same cars, have the same expectations about work and lifestyle. Geek circles have their own special gender issues, but that's from different articles.

            Edit – sorry, Gil, you didn't actually try to take this to bizarro-land anywhere. That was a different sub-thread with someone else.

          • Geek is by definition bizarro. It used to refer to circus freaks and now is supposed to refer to the socially-inept. If "nerd" and "geek" kept getting used in a watered-down way then it's time that the term "otaku" become the new descriptor. (Albeit I don't want to say anymore since it's off-topic. :| )

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            My point was that while geeks define themselves by the ways they are different from the mainstream, most of them are still very mainstream in most of their other attitudes. They may be awkward in the executions, but most of their attitudes on dating and romance are quite similar to those of society at large. I'd argue your definition of "geek" a bit but I get your point and largely agree.

          • I missed where you're a woman…

          • I missed where you've slept with 20 women.

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            Well as long as we're playing the numbers game:Mine's bigger. You're wrong.

          • Thanks. I really like these comments where you cut through the actual discussion and ignore valid points just to drop a hi-larious one-liner. Cool.

          • Robjection says:

            Not as good as the one where you try to claim authority on the subject by virtue of sleeping with a 2-digit number of women. That's pure comment gold right there!

          • I'm not claiming authority based on that alone. I was responding to LilyAnn claiming that I have no insight in the behavior of women by virtue of being a man, while me having slept with 20 women would mean that I'd have a better idea than she does. It was a totally logical response and does in no way mean that I claim authority on the subject by that fact alone.

          • Robjection says:

            Actually, you sleeping with 20 women does not mean you have a better idea about the behaviour of women than someone who is themselves a woman. You haven't been through the shit that women go through on a daily basis. You do not know precisely how it affects them. All you know is one facet of the behaviour of the 20 women you have slept with.

          • I'm sorry if this sounds mean, but as opposed to everybody else who is participating in this discussion, you somehow manage to misinterpret the point in every single reply you make.

            This isn't about how women FEEL. It's about HOW THEY ACT.

            With that said, I'm going to stop replying to your comments now because it's exhausting. Sorry if this comes off as mean. It's really just to save my own energy.

          • Robjection says:

            It's not about how they act, it's about why they act how they act. I mean, you're trying to give an explanation for why women act the way they act, right? You're not just sitting there and stating that they behave this way without suggesting why this might be the case, right?

            Well, the thing is, the way a person acts is heavily tied to how they feel about things and there are multiple influences on these feelings and these influences have different weightings. If I have understood your comments correctly, your offered explanation is that the influence of social conditioning outweighs the influence of personal (sexual) desire in most or all cases. We have cases where this is true. We have cases where this is false. What we don't have (in these comments) is non-anecdotal data from either side. Therefore, since the burden of proof lies with the proponent, I have just this to say about your explanation:

            Prove it or it's bullshit.

          • No, see, this is what I'm saying, you're misunderstanding the discussion.

            I'm not talking about why women might act the way they do. I'm just stating that there are shared characteristics due to social conditioning that makes Nerdlove's approach unrealistic. That's all.

          • Also, you might imply that the social conditioning is the "why" in this situation, but I'm talking about its mere existence giving support to my theory rather than wanting to prove something about female behavior.

          • Robjection says:

            The mere existence of social conditioning gives support to your theory in the same way that the mere existence of ravens gives support to the theory that all birds are black. Which is to say, you can safely assert the existence of some birds that are black or the existence of some women that fit your theory, but that's about it. If you claim that the effect of social conditioning is making Nerdlove's approach unrealistic, you must be implying that the women that fit your theory are a majority. So my "Prove it or it's bullshit" line still stands.

          • You can scroll down to my discussion with Mel about social conditioning for a more elaborate explanation of what I'm trying to say.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Cool. Now prove it.

          • If you want, you can scroll down to my discussion with Mel about social conditioning for a more elaborate explanation of what I'm trying to say.

          • Women are conditioned to not hurt men's egos, women are conditioned to let men down easily. We are conditioned not to give a cold, hard "no." So if the conditioning is your hang up, then you should be much more careful and much more concerned about having an unwilling partner rather than less concerned. If all of these sexual encounters you're talking about with women who were less than enthusiastic are real, then you are a jerk who is using this idea of conditioning to your advantage just to get off. You're not getting girls who are enthusiastic about sleeping with you because (get this) they aren't excited about sleeping with you. Girls may be conditioned to giving in, but you'll know what it looks like when a girl is excited to sleep with you ( Take it from me, a girl who was raised in a cult, wore ankle length skirts most of my life and was practically jailed to keep away from boys) no matter how conditioned we are to "give in" we are NOT conditioned to fake shoving a guy down on the bed and riding him to happy town.

          • As a guy, it's not entirely easy assessing how the specific woman you're seeing might look when she's interested versus uninterested, or whether or not it's in the woman's personality to not be as enthusiastic as you'd expect a woman to be, or sizing up a woman's behavior in comparison to your expectations of how a woman should be, and whether you're the one holding unrealistic expectations or she's the one not showing enough enthusiasm, or whether or not you should go on if you're being called an oversensitive 90s man for asking her a third time if she'd rather do something else, despite having some sort of feeling that she's not as enthusiastic as you think it's healthy to be.

            What if she's pulling your belt, but you're not "feeling" her enthusiasm? Or maybe you point out that she doesn't seem very into it, and that you'd be totally fine just watching some TV with her or making out, to which she replies that she's just shy, and tells you over and over to continue, even though you're not all too sure that she's really just shy, or if she's hiding something?

            I do consider her perspective, and I don't think I'm a jerk.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Its called empathy. Google it.

          • I don't understand what point you're trying to make.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I was going to post something snappy but I reread the post about three times. I still stand by "empathy" as in the ability to perceive the emotional state of others.

            In both of your examples, though, the emotion you're portraying in your potential partner is either caution or confusion. Even people who describe themselves as shy will open up to people they trust. You have basically two options, awkward sex right now or open communication now and more enjoyable sex later. No, its not the easiest way to get your dick wet but its more satisfying and there's no misunderstanding.

          • What are you inferring? I literally don't understand what you are referring to.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            You asked a question. I can tell because the sentences end in a question mark. I answered that question.

            What I am getting from your question is "woman showed hesitation. I could not tell if it was shyness like she said or if she did not want to have sex."

            My reply was intended to be read "then find the fuck out before you put your dick in her."

          • No, that's not at all what is going on here.

            Andrea was inferring that I didn't care about the girls I slept with and that I was only concerned with whether or not I could do so, and in return I explained the many ways in which a sexual encounter can become complicated, and that it isn't always such a clear-cut case of right or wrong.

            Where your "empathy" comment would fit into the picture is something I still can't see, but maybe there was some sort of misunderstanding there.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            There seems to be a lot in my comments in the last little while that you don't get. I'm afraid I don't know how to be more clear on any of them.

          • Wait, it seems like all I have to do to win this contest is be a woman AND have slept with a some women, so then . . . GUESS WHO IS WINNING ! (Hint: it's me. I think this is the most pointless contest ever, but I am winning it. What do I win? A cookie? I do like cookies.)

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            Do these cookies have sprinkles? 'Cuz ill bring my a-game if there're sprinkles.

          • I'll bake cookies, I make hella bomb cookies.

          • Nope, my argument is based on more than anecdotal evidence, but this is continuously ignored.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            No, thus far it really hasn't been.

          • Robjection says:

            The only other thing you have used to try to support your argument has been shown over and over again to be a considerably weaker support than you give it credit for.

        • eselle28 says:

          Women often aren't great about it, or at least some of us aren't. That's because the current way we do things is set up so that women aren't and don't have to be clear and explicit. If things are set up so that we have to be to get sex, I think you'll see that start to change.

          • Yes, I agree with you. This is what I'm trying to say.

          • eselle28 says:

            You agree with the first part. You don't seem to be on board with the second part. Insist your partners actively participate in sex and stop playing into this model where you ask for sex and they quietly give it.

            Also, "some" and "often" are important. Find one of the women who's already better at communicating, or spend some time teaching your current partner how to communicate. It's not some unsolvable puzzle.

        • It's illogical to assume anything about any group "as a whole" because of your limited experience. (You've slept with, what, 0.0000000001% of all the women in the world? Hardly a statistically significant sample, even if we include Paul's experiences too.) Especially when there are other guys here who say they don't have a problem telling if a woman's enthusiastic. Your experiences aren't somehow definitive proof while theirs mean nothing.

          If a woman is so bad at communicating what she wants in bed that you're incapable of telling whether she's enthusiastic or not (she doesn't need to express every single detail of what she might enjoy, just seem clearly enthusiastic about sex in general at that moment), then find a different woman to sleep with.

          • Because of my limited experience, yes, and the fact that women are conditioned to be unassertive, which I've brought up over, and over, and over, and over. But somehow the latter goes unnoticed to everyone here?

            Also, exactly how is the notion that people are diverse enough for there to be someone for everyone more justified than me claiming that a group of people are conditioned into being likely to share certain characteristics?

          • I… can't follow your last sentence at all. I think you're missing some words, or put them in the wrong order.

            I don't believe that it is a "fact" that women are conditioned to be so unassertive that most women are incapable of showing enthusiasm when they really are enthusiastic about sex. Is there social conditioning for women not to be *too* assertive? Yes. But in my experience the impact is nowhere near that extreme. You can't just call something a fact and expect everyone else to accept it.

          • It's a fact that women are conditioned, and I'm sure we'd agree on that. If you don't believe that this affects the way women tend to behave in the bedroom, then fine, but I think you'd be hard pressed finding a woman who isn't unassertive in bed if they're your typical mainstream women and aren't part of some kind of subculture.

            As for my last sentence, what I'm saying is that you're constantly pushing the idea that "women are people, women are diverse, if you don't like the one you're dating then go find someone else" which implies that diversity is in no way inhibited by social conditioning, but I'm claiming that it is, and that if the majority of women you meet share a certain set of characteristics, and this is confirmed by the nature of social conditioning, and by your friends, and pop culture, then there just might be some truth to the idea that it applies to the majority of women.

          • Robjection says:

            "if they're your typical mainstream women"

            And that is the erroneous assumption that you are making. Not all women are your typical mainstream women. Some are part of some kind of subculture, and they count just as much as the mainstream ones.

          • Um, I'm not part of any special subculture, and I'm assertive in bed. Yeah, that wasn't so hard to find.

            Anyway, if you've never seen women initiating and enthusiastically enjoying sex in popular culture, then you obviously aren't very up on popular culture. I see it on a regular basis. And like I said, I *don't* actually see social conditioning telling women not to initiate or not to be at all enthusiastic. Can you point me out to a single example of this?

          • fakely mctest says:

            I sense a visit to "No True Scotsman" argument land somewhere just beyond the horizon.

          • So you're a writer, sic-fi/fantasy fan (according to your profile) and you're posting on a geek site, but you don't consider yourself any different from mainstream people?

            Also when I talk about pop culture I'm more talking about how say, comedians might make fun of how passive women are in bed, or how self-aware they might be. I'm just saying that there are people who aren't me and who are confirming what I'm saying.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I'm just saying that there are people who aren't me and who are confirming what I'm saying.\

            Agreed and there are people who aren't you who contradict what you're saying. You want to discount the claims of a few people on this site because they contradict your experience? That's cool but don't expect your claims to get any purchase when they contradict ours.

            So, impasse reached. Suggestions?

          • So on your side we have:
            – Geeks, who by nature don't follow the norm or are more aware of it than most, claiming not to fit my description.

            And on my side we have:
            – Non-geeks, who are more likely to follow norms, fitting my description.
            – Social conditioning speaking for the likelihood of my claim to be true in a general sense.

            I don't see how your suggestions are more likely to be true than mine.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Provisionally granted.

            Conclusion – You'd have a more satisfying romantic life if you dated different people.

          • eselle28 says:

            Rondy's made quite a convincing case in favor of dating geeky women.

          • Anonyleast says:

            I know a woman who is high school friends with one of my friends and is most certainly not a geek (she leaves if we even start talking about doing geeky stuff) who is certainly assertive and vocal in bed and will tell people she's comfortable with that she couldn't handle not being.

            If your anecdote is evidence, so is mine.

          • And like I've said a zillion times throughout the thread, I'm not just relying on anecdotal evidence, but that seems to go unnoticed.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Your claim hasn't gone unnoticed, your non-anecdotal evidence has.

          • Yeah dude, repeating "social conditioning" isn't evidence.

          • Scroll down to my discussion with Mel about social conditioning for a more elaborate explanation.

          • Robjection says:

            Considering the way geekiness has been going mainstream lately, I don't think it's much of a stretch (if any stretch at all) for Mel to claim mainstreamhood. Unless you wish to give a list of all attributes that one must have in order to be mainstream, in which case go ahead and do that.

          • I have many mainstream interests too; if you saw me walking down the street or talked to me in a neutral environment briefly you wouldn't think "Oh, this person's so not mainstream". It's not as if there's a boundary between mainstream and not and people have to be on one side or the other. I'd consider myself more mainstream than part of a specific subculture. If you think having an artistic career or having geeky interests makes one in a subculture, then I suspect there are more people who aren't mainstream than who are.

            If comedians make fun of women being passive in bed, shouldn't that encourage women to be more assertive? Why would they want to behave in a way that people mock?

            I believe that there are people who aren't you who have had similar experiences. I just don't believe that that means you can make claims about "most" women. There are plenty of people I've talked to who confirm what I'm saying too. I'm not saying you have to believe that most women aren't passive. I'm just asking you to stop insisting that the rest of us should believe that they are, when your "proof" isn't any better than ours.

          • I'm not trying to pigeonhole you, but surely you must agree that by virtue of being shy (as you put it), a writer and a geek, your approach to issues like these must differ from how most people tend to reflect about things, if they do at all?

            As for the comedian example, I was just trying to point out that it's a mainstream phenomenon that women are unassertive in bed, where the likelihood of this happening increases when the familiarity between the man and woman is low.

            Do you really find this hard to believe, in all honesty?

            Also, I do consider the basis of my theory to be stronger than yours, because since social conditioning makes women passive in a lot of situations, I don't see why this wouldn't be true in bed as well.

          • Ah, I see. So you figure that it makes sense that being shy and having interests that tend to appeal to introverted and socially awkward people would sensibly make me… more likely to be socially assertive than the average woman? *scratches head*

            Anyway, I've already told you that I agree that probably more women than not are uncomfortable about initiating a first encounter. However, uncomfortable initiating doesn't mean they're incapable of showing enthusiasm once their partner has initiated sex. And yes, I find it hard to believe that women are conditioned not to show enthusiasm when as I pointed out in another comment, I have never seen any indication of that despite being a woman and consuming tons of mainstream media aimed at women for the last 32 years.

            Say women are conditioned to be more passive. It doesn't follow that therefore, no matter how much their partner encourages them to speak up about their wants and sexual interest and shows he's supportive of them doing so, they'd be incapable of overcoming that social conditioning to do so. If social conditioning worked on that extreme a level, then we'd never be capable of doing anything we weren't socially conditioned to do. Men wouldn't be capable of asking for consent, because they're so socially conditioned just to go for it. Etc. You have some reasonable points buried in your arguments, but you keep insisting on pushing them to the extreme.

          • No, I figured that you'd be a person who reflects upon these things to a greater degree than most mainstream people would, which would make you more likely to not adhere to the norms I claim apply to the majority of women.

            Also, it comes down to how you define enthusiastic. I think that during the initial encounters, a woman is likely to be utterly ambiguous and give the man a hard time figuring out her feelings, whereas in an established relationship, a woman would show consent, but rather still through subtle, vague, implicit sexual invites rather than explicit ones. In other words, I've never had a woman ask if I wanted to have sex, but many asking if I'd come back to bed and cuddle.

          • So, all 20 women you've been with, have pretty much acted ambiguous about the encounter?

            Also, consent <> initiation. You can initiate, and the woman can still be enthusiastic about it. Or, a woman can initiate grudgingly because she feels manipulated into it, so in that case not enthusiastically consenting.

          • Yes, and my point is that due to the way women tend to behave during initial sexual encounters, it's not entirely easy to discern between the two emotions.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            If your partner can not communicate to you whether or not she's reluctant, she's reluctant.

          • Everyone follows the social template differently, so it's arrogant to say that someone is reluctant just because they don't communicate as clearly as you think they should.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Its also arrogant to assume you know what's going on in their minds if they don't communicate clearly. Mine's less likely to end badly.

          • Um. I'm saying that you DON'T know what's going on in their mind just because you've gotten what you interpret as an enthusiastic consent, so how is yours likely to end less badly?

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Because an enthusiastic "yes" is a lot more likely to mean what it says than hesitation and mixed signals that constitute "she didn't say no".

          • Uuh yeah, but I'm not arguing for the latter and never did, so stop assuming that I am. If you still don't know what i'm talking about, read my response to Mel a couple of threads below this one in regards to social conditioning.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            a woman is likely to be utterly ambiguous and give the man a hard time figuring out her feelings, whereas in an established relationship, a woman would show consent, but rather still through subtle, vague, implicit sexual invites rather than explicit ones.

            OMG! OH MY GOD! I just got it. . .
            He's talking about Daenerys Targaryen! Rondy, dude, you're no Kal Drogo.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Yeah Mel, you're not like them other <minority>. You're one o' the good ones.

          • Again, I have no clue what point you're trying to make.

            You don't think it's safe to say that nerd culture which by definition is intellectual would make it more likely for a member of said culture to be more aware of norms and therefor have a greater chance of going against them?

          • Nope. I've met enough sexist, racist, clique-ish fuckheads in nerd communities to "safely" say that nerds hella conform to some things. Like racism and sexism.

            Also, hi, I'm a woman. Who has slept with women. My anecdotal evidence trumps your evidence. See? I can also assert things too!

          • I'm not saying it's not possible for nerds to be terrible, but any subculture that is intellectual in nature is probably more likely to have people whos thinking isn't representative of the large majority.

            As for your anecdotal evidence, I'm not entirely basing my theory on my own anecdotal evidence as I've stated my other arguments many times throughout the thread, but nobody seems to be able to pick up on that.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Your evidence is anecdotal until you have a reasonable academic study that indicates that women have difficulty expressing their sexual desires with a potential partner because they are socialized to be submissive/noncommunicative, whatever. So far all you've presented is your assertion.

          • Might want to grab a notebook and give the entire blog archive a good read. I'm sure there's a lot of claims you'd be able to scrutinize. After all, scientific claims is what you expect to find on a dating site.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            You're the one who said other people's claims didn't constitute contrary evidence to your posiiton. I', just asking the same standard.

          • I have visited this thread several times in the last few days and I have slogged through all 400 fucking posts each time. I have seen 0 non-anecdotal evidence from you.

            And by the way, responding to counterclaims by repeating your original claim in a louder voice is not non-anecdotal evidence.

          • I kind of wonder how Rondy thinks lesbian and bisexual women ever manage to have sex with other women, given that he thinks women are so conditioned to passiveness that they find it nearly impossible to explicitly initiate sex at any time. Maybe he imagines women never actually have sex with each other and just spend hours talking in circles around the idea of it? :P

          • fakely mctest says:

            They just sit across the room from each other like they're characters from Sartre's "No Exit." Super hot.

          • I'd argue that the interaction between women would differ from interaction between men and women given that they wouldn't be socialized as differently as when compared to men.

          • As a pansexual woman, I can tell you gender doesn't tend to make that much of a difference when it comes to initiating sex. There are people of every gender that are shy about sex and there are people of every gender that are forward about sex. From my personal experience, I haven't seen any particular trend of one gender being consisently overbearing or underbearing when it comes to sex.

          • eselle28 says:

            I'm not going to sign on to the idea that geeky women are totally and completely different than all other kinds of women. I think you'll probably find a little more assertiveness there, but there's a lot of variation in the general population, and my friends who identify as conservative, Christian, stay at home moms seem to have no problem talking about initiating sex.

            That being said, you've described your past experiences with women who gave dubious consent as being FREAKING HORRIBLE and also mentioned that it wasn't uncommon for this sort of thing to happen. That sounds like it sucks. Why don't you date within a different community, so that these awful experiences don't keep happening?

          • fakely mctest says:

            And there it is.

          • Darling, social conditioning is not a concrete concept or a game stat that lowers a woman's Clear Communication stat from 100 to 20 in a magical way for every woman. It applies differently and dissolves as people grow up, especially if they meet other cool people who encourage them to think for themselves. It's not that uncommon. It is true that women avoid giving definite no's to avoid threats or aggresive behaviour that many men otherwise exhibit (because manchildren can't handle their own emotions), it does not mean that they do not actually know whether they want to have sex with you or not or are denying what they "really" want. It's you they're not sure about, whether you'll harm them for shutting you down when rejected or not. Which is, as mentioned before, just another REALLY GREAT REASON to communicate and show your partner how you immediately back off when it's not clear if she wants it or not.

          • What I'm saying is that getting enthusiastic consent isn't going to ensure that the woman is going to feel good about the intercourse.

          • Of course not, and that's why you continue to communicate and pay attention to what your partner does, sex is about the both of you. If you think your partner still is uncomfortable, it is up to you to confirm with her rather than assume and go ahead anyway. It's called empathy and is a kind of condom against being sued for rape. Now, if you have gotten her clear, vocal consent of "Please do bend me over and take me on the kitchen table", you pay attention to and communicate with her about her needs (which she also is expected to do according to the enthusiastic consent-model) and still end up in trouble then you might want to re-evaluate the kind of women you pick up. But that's not a fault of either feminism or the model of enthusiastic consent, it's simply the fact that people are different.

            Nobody is expected to guarantee others mind-blowing sex or can control how they will feel about it the day after. However, you are responsible for your own part. What everyone does owe their sexual partners is to pay attention and always confirm if they see signs of insecurity, that the other party really wants to continue and back off if they don't. I seriously doubt that men are a socially underevolved subspecies that can not interpret physical signals of discomfort – most that claim they do, do feel it, they just choose to ignore it and assume rather than communicate.

          • I've addressed this a couple of threads below in my response to Mel in regards to social conditioning. Feel free to participate if you have anything to add.

          • Well, listen here. You question the frequency of sex with enthusiastic consent. You get a "alright, why not" from a women, have sex and then get told that she didn't enjoy it at all. I'm assuming you are, or at least want to be a good guy and feel sort of bad about that. Alright. So communicate MORE. Before sex: "I'm not all that great at reading non-verbal cues, so if you like or don't like something, you'll have to tell me. I'm attentive but I can't read your mind." That sounds more productive than enforcing a bad behaviour by letting her rack down on you afterwards for things she didn't communicate. Now, as said before, you owe it to her to be attentive to her body language, but since you're both adults, she also needs to speak up. I think that your argument is somewhere along the lines of "Yeah, but due to social conditioning, she won't speak up, no matter what I do!", which I think is not true for the majority of women. Communicating kindly and showing respect, patience and attention solves most insecurity issue over time in my experience (which is where the vague communication-thing is coming from, insecurity with themselves or with the partner), unless something is really damaged, in which case, therapy is in order.

            I'm not trying to "disprove" your experiences or say that they're invalid, I'm suggesting what can be done to improve them. If you want to dismiss that without trying – go ahead. But if I only ever got partners who communicated badly and then played the blame game with me afterwards, I'd see what I could do about the biggest factor I can influence – myself to change that. It's much easier to dismiss the whole thing with "Oh women are formed to be unassertive, there's nothing I can do but to go along with it" than to re-evaluate one's views and try to make a change anyway (which happens to be what this blog is all about). :) Happy Easter.

          • So… "Typical mainstream woman"- you mean white, heterosexual, middle-class, USAian, college-educated, nominally Christian?

            I SEE YOUR RACISM THERE. I SEE IT.

            Where I live, in New Zealand, we have some of the highest rates of casual sex in the world. Women here have a lot of sex and they like it. And if you want to step away from nerd culture – I've been in town with my rugby team and you had best believe there are women out there who want to have sex with those boys and are not backward about coming forward with it.

          • I don't really understand what point you're trying to make through that statement. Feel free to rephrase it into an argument if you feel like it, and I'll be able to reply.

          • You had earlier said that nerd culture is different from mainstream culture in that nerdy women are more likely to be forward. Weeboy is offering you a counter-example of women in a more mainstream situation who are forward about sex.

            I'm not sure what there is you're not understanding?

          • You have trouble understanding anything that doesn't sing in wonderful harmony and agreement with everything you say.

          • Robjection says:

            Just because women are conditioned to be unassertive does not mean that all women are unassertive. That's like claiming that because men are conditioned to want lots of sex with hot women, all men want lots of sex with hot women.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Or that all men are assertive, for that matter. You need only look through the comments on this article to find plenty of counter-examples.

          • Yes, why focus on characteristics that are likely to be recurring in one's dating life in a discussion about how this may affect the outcome of one's sexual encounters?

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I am focusing on characteristics that recur in my dating life. They just happen to be characteristics that contradict your dating life.

          • That doesn't mean that it's not a good idea to look at trends or patterns that are likely to be true in different situations. Whether or not these cases apply to your own dating life is up to you to decide, but that's not what you were originally saying either, as you were arguing against me.

          • R: "It makes sense to look mostly at the things that are likely to happen to you."
            GJ: "I am, and that causes me to disagree with you."
            R: "Then you should look beyond your own experiences to other situations."
            _________
            "Oh, look, this isn't an argument."
            "Yes, it is!"
            "No it isn't, it's just contradiction!"
            "No, it isn't!"
            "Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of any statement the other person makes."
            "…No, it isn't!"

            Gentleman Johnny, I think he's going to ask you for another five pounds any minute now.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Just wait until you see my silly walk!

    • I'm trying to picture this situation. You're making out and you want to have sex, so you say, "Want to have sex?", and what does the woman say in this situation that's not consent but also not a refusal?

      And if a woman loses interest halfway through, and you're not paying enough attention to notice that she's no longer engaged, then you're doing sex wrong. If she keeps pretending she's into it the whole time, and then acts offended afterward, then you're having sex with the wrong woman and you should find one who isn't going to be so passive aggressive.

      The women you've slept with apparently haven't been good at communicating in bed. There are lots of other women who are. I've been with men who weren't good at communicating what they wanted, but somehow I'm able to recognize that was their individual problem and not make it about all men.

      • Gentleman Johnny says:

        I'm trying to picture this situation. You're making out and you want to have sex, so you say, "Want to have sex?", and what does the woman say in this situation that's not consent but also not a refusal?

        "Lutefisk!"

        Yes, I'm just shamelessly bumping up the comment count at this point.

        • eselle28 says:

          I think "Lutefisk!" counts as a clear refusal, because I can't imagine anyone wanting to have sex after thinking about that. Shudder.

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            "So, wanna fuck?"

            "Lutefisk!"

            "…and my erection has been replaced by an urge to vomit. A lot. Be right back."

            (I had a Norwegian stepfather. Lutefisk belongs to that special brand of ethnic cuisine that, in the words of Mike Myers, was apparently based on a dare.)

          • fakely mctest says:

            I'd also suggest the Icelandic fermented shark, hákarl, but that's probably harder to pronounce.

          • eselle28 says:

            I've never tasted that, but experience has taught me that fermentation and fish do not go together. I'm guessing this is another one of those dishes that's better if you don't have a very good sense of smell?

          • fakely mctest says:

            Nor have I, to be honest, but I hear it smells and tastes like ammonia!

          • x_Sanguine_8 says:

            hakarl has to be fermented in order to make the shark edible (the ammonia smell is… well, ammonia that results from the breakdown of the shark's natural antifreeze, which is toxic to humans; the more you know!!!). Lean times in Iceland are probably responsible for the creation of that particular "delicacy". Lutefisk is tame by comparison (though I admit i've never tried either).

          • fakely mctest says:

            Yeah I made the mistake of watching a bit of a national geo piece on its preparation. I feel like you can almost smell it through the monitor. Early Iceland: literature and rotten shark.

          • Anonyleast says:

            If you're in the US, however, just take your best shot at it.

            I mean, look at how we pronounce 'Detroit'.

        • what's a lutefisk?

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Its a Scandanavian delicacy that I don't have the heart to describe (hint, it involves fermented fish). Its also a really funny thing to blurt out right before sex (or any other time, really).

          • I'm gonna try that next time!

            "Oh yeah! yeah! mmmm! right there! LUTEFISK! yeah! oh! oh! oh!"

            Just keep going like nothing happened.

          • x_Sanguine_8 says:

            lutefisk = lye-fish. It's dried whitefish that is treated with lye, traditionally made from birch ash. its pungent and jelly-like in consistency (now you know….).

            I'm surprised surstromming hasn't come up in this conversation by now….. :P

      • It's not about what the women say since they'll always agree to have sex, but the way they act.

        I don't really feel any enthusiasm besides their following my lead, so I always end up pushing the question until either of us get annoyed, or we end up having sex which is usually good or great, but sometimes end with her telling me that she didn't really want to do it or that she lost interest halfway through without telling me, but still wanted to do it "just because".

        It's not all too uncommon for women to pretend to be interested even if something happens before or during the act that kills their buzz, like suddenly becoming self-aware, feeling fat or being reminded of something negative, and even if you can somewhat feel that the atmosphere has changed, it's not noticeable enough to justify ending the intercourse, especially when you're being convinced that nothing is wrong.

        Instead, they'll let you know afterwards what they were thinking during the act, and the feeling of having slept with someone you later learn didn't really want to is FREAKING HORRIBLE, even if it's not that big of a deal to them.

        Yes, the women I've slept with haven't been very good at communicating in bed, but as far as I know from having asked the women in my life about it as well as my friends, we all seem to agree that this unassertive and vague behavior is common among women, and that's enough for me to want to question the frequency of sexual encounters where the consent is enthusiastic.

        • eselle28 says:

          If your partner isn't enthusiastic besides following your lead, there's a third option besides going ahead and having sex and pushing for an explanation. You can stop the encounter entirely, without pushing for an explanation. You can have the talk about saying no at some other time, and tell her that you'd rather that she says no when she's not in the mood.

          This is especially the case if you have a relationship dynamic where the woman always agrees to sex, but never initiates it herself. That's a troubling sign all by itself.

          • Yes, but women never initiate sex as they are conditioned not to. That's my entire point.

          • eselle28 says:

            No, that's not normal. Even very shy, traditional women tend to initiate sex at least sometimes, especially with men they're dating and who they've had sex with before.

          • Yes, I'm not saying "never" in the sense that it couldn't possibly happen, and of course it's more likely to happen as a relationship establishes and progresses, but if we're looking at situations where there is a bigger likelihood to be confusions, such as during a first sexual encounter with someone, I'd say that women are pretty inhibited and not at all likely to show enthusiasm or explicit or implicit consent despite wanting to have sex, which means that men are going to have to do a great deal of work trying to understand what the woman wants.

          • eselle28 says:

            I'm going to take this more narrowly. You told some specific stories about your sex life. Most of them sounded like they were about women who had slept with you more than once. Is that correct? If so, did any of them ever initiate sex?

          • No they didn't, but the further into a relationship I get with a woman, the bigger the likelihood that she will indirectly cause sex to happen.

          • eselle28 says:

            If you've had 20 partners and none of them have ever initiated directly, there's a problem. I can't tell if it's with who you're choosing to date or if you're being pushy about sex to the point it's turning your partners off, but this doesn't match the experiences of anyone I've ever met.

            Since you don't seem to have great difficulty finding women to date or sleep with you, maybe adopting the enthusiastic consent model would be a good thing – you'd miss out on some FREAKING AWFUL experiences with women who weren't really interested, but you'd be more likely to be single when you ran into a woman who actually wanted to have sex with you.

          • Indirectly cause sex to happen? Like, whoops, tripped and fell on a penis?

          • No like "come back to bed, I'm tired" or sitting down in the couch besides you waiting for you to make a move so she can get sexual, rather than outright asking if you want to have sex.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Who the fuck wants to be in a relationship like that?

            Edit: please imagine Patrick Stewart in that Star Trek meme photo when reading the above.

          • Well, I judge girls by other qualities than their ability to be sexually explicit, so maybe that's why people would want to be in a relationship like that. Also, preferences.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I don't think I get what you're trying to say here. Are you saying that a woman's ability to communicate openly and honestly with you is not a priority in a relationship?

          • Uh, no. I'm saying that just because a woman implicitly initiates sex rather than explicitly, it doesn't mean that the relationship is terrible or that people wouldn't want to "the fuck" be in a relationship like that.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I think we have a bit of a definitional issue here. If my girlfriend is sitting on the couch next to me, I assume its because she doesn't want to stand, not because she's waiting for me to make the first move. Are there nonverbal cues short of straddling me that she can give that make her interest apparent? Sure, but that's not what it sounds like you're talking about. If I have to have a secret decoder ring to tell she's interested, that's a problem.

            So I'm not quite sure where the line of "implicitly initiating" is. I'm sure you don't mean it this way but it sounds a lot like a girl who wears a short skirt, has a few drinks and hangs off a guy is "implicitly initiating" by this definition.

          • Your comment is cutting to the core of what my entire argument revolves around, which is how women are way more subtle and ambiguous about their wants and needs than men are, and that this is more evident during initial encounters, but still remains to a large degree throughout the course of a long term relationship as well.

            The way in which I suggest that a woman might implicitly imply that she wants to have sex could be by asking to cuddle in the couch or bed, and allowing the man to escalate the situation into sex.

            In other words, she's letting the man take the lead without being explicit about her needs, and that creates situations where the man has to know her pretty well in order to be sure that she is truly consenting, and this can be a big problem during initial or casual encounters when you're not entirely familiar with your sexual partners' range of expressions and emotions.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            OK, so your assuming Cosmo is a good model for female behavior. Yeah, totally don't want to date that type of woman and I still see no evidence that this represents a majority of even American cisgenered straight women.

            Now, that said, if I want sex and initiate and a woman is responding enthusiastically, great! If I'm not interested in initiating (too tired, just not horny, whatever) then the woman is kind of screwed in this model, isn't she?

            Then she gets all resentful because I can't read her mind and expects me to know why without telling me because we've already established a relationship based on not communicating like adults. Yeah, fuck that. I'll stick with people who know how to use their words (and/or actions).

          • And your interpretation of peoples words and actions is the true representation of what they feel about the situation?

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            A fuck lot closer than Cosmo's.

          • I have no idea what this "Cosmo" thing means. You're either trolling or just very bad at discussing issues in a clear and direct manner. From now on, if your comments aren't direct arguments addressing something I'm saying, I'm just going to ignore it.

          • Okay, so you've got this cue that you think is an implicit indication that your girlfirend wants sex. You lean in to kiss her, or reach for the top button of her shirt or say "shall we move to the bedroom?"

            What is she doing at this point? Is she smiling and giving you bedroom eyes? kissing you back passionately? starting to remove your clothes or help you with hers? Saying "yes, let's do?" Blushing and glancing back at you coyly as she heads to the bed? Making happy sounds?

            Or, is she turning away from you? Taking your hand to redirect it from removing her clothes or touching intimate body parts? Examining the furniture? Tensing up? Changing the subject? Reaching for the channel changer?

            Even an unusually passive or indirect woman gives pretty clear signs of interest or not.

            If you're not seeing anything like the first set of reactions, this is sex you shouldn't be having. I really can't see why this is so hard.

          • I get responses from the first set of examples, but what I'm saying is that those aren't clear indicators that the woman is going to feel good about the intercourse, and that it's stupid of Nerdlove to suggest that everything is a-okay just because you've managed to check that off the list.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            So not only can we trust women who give ambiguous signals to mean "no", now you'e saying we can't trust a woman who's enthusiastic to mean yes? Who's paternalistic now?

          • I'm not paternalistic because I'm not defining the problem. I'm suggesting additional approaches to it.

          • What approaches are you suggesting? I haven't seen any suggestions so far, just arguments that there's no way to tell if a woman is enthusiastic about having sex.

          • He's not saying it's a magic way to make sure a woman feels good about sex afterwards, it's a way to make sure she wants to have the sex while she's having it.

            It doesn't mean no one will ever question their decision afterwards, or have bad feelings about it due to issues they have or just due to it having been crappy sex. That can happen, with sex just like with any other decision. It does mean, though, that everyone has chosen to have the sex they have of their own free will. Which is VERY important! And makes it infinitely more likely that they will go away feeling GOOD about the encounter.

          • (Replying to enail because this is a continuation of this them – the crappy sex theme – but the comment is directed at Rondy and his interpretation of the sequence of events he describes in his sex life.)

            I am going to propose this as a general situation which could result in the behavior Rondy sees. I obviously do not know enough about the situation to know that this is what's happening in Rondy's case.

            Bob's sex partner, Alice, gives him enthusiastic consent. When she gives him enthusiastic consent, she is hoping that she will have her needs met in the situation (whether that's her orgasm, or whatever other physical / emotional goal she may have). Bob makes sure to ask repeatedly to make sure she is still willing to have sex, and Alice says yes, because she is willing, but if at the end of the sex she feels like Bob was more focused on his needs than hers – IE, he was very focused on his need to not feel like he was taking advantage of her, and not making her pleasure as much of a goal of the encounter as his – Alice will probably figure that out during the sex and may decide that she will let Bob finish, even though she isn't getting what she wants out of the encounter (or, it's possible that she may not know exactly what is making her irritated – I agree that it's complicated and that not everyone is great about explaining their feelings or identifying the reasons they have them, both men and women, particularly when the are more comples than "do I want to have sex now or not" – "yes, I want to have sex now, but I don't particulalry want to be used as Bob's willing sex toy with no regard for me" is a totally valid response). Alice may then try to express this to Bob after the fact, which makes him feel bad. But if Alice has the idea that Bob doesn't care about her pleasure and only whether or not he's taking advantage of her, she may not know a good way to broach the situation with him. She may also not have left the relationship because she likes other things about it, doesn't think it would be any different with someone else, isn't 100% sure what the problem is, or any other reason Alice may have.

            The reason I suggest this as a situation that could result in the behavior described is that it would explain why the woman is enthusiastic during the sex or during the first part of the sex and not happy about what happened afterwards, and the one time my husband has had sex with me where I felt like my fun didn't matter ended with me wanting him to have fun, but not with me being a happy camper (I just told him this after the sex was done, and he's usually extremely attentive to me so I could easily identify why I was cranky. The reason I didn't stop him during the sex and complain then was because he was very focused on his needs, there wasn't a great time to interrupt, and I did honestly want him to have his fun. And sometimes women don't have very long in which to interrupt.). Also, if one's partner doesn't think they're interested in one's needs and can identify that that is the problem, they may not think telling their partner during sex will be paid any heed. Hopefully one would be incorrect.

            Regardless of whether this is actually ion any way shape or form similar to what's going on in Rondy's experience, in any sexual relationship that involves behavior one party thinks is confusing. talking to the partner about that behavior – respectfully, and when there is no immediate chance of sex occurring – is going to be a good way of dealing with it. Assuming that it's The Way Things Are is not going to make anyone happier.

          • Your model for interpreting signals from women sounds an awful lot like 1) massive case of wishful thinking and 2) way for a person to rationalize away any wrongdoing on his part.

            In the event when I (a woman) meets up with people who don't like to communicate directly (both men and women), my strategy is to leave them alone or make them communicate directly. I don't play games.

          • Yeah, I'm having the same reaction as Gentleman Johnny. Your love life sounds AWFUL.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Aww, can't edit the original. Here's the Patrick Stewart version: http://qkme.me/3tlans

          • Are you trying to justify that you're pushing women because you think that you otherwise won't get any? Because that's exactly what it sounds like.

          • Yes Cat. That's exactly what it is.

            Because you know, going to great lengths trying to ensure that the woman you're with is actually comfortable, pushing the idea of waiting to sleep together to the point where she gets annoyed with you reluctancy, calling you an oversensitive 90s man for being too careful, is truly, TRULY a sign of disrespecting a woman's boundaries.

            I'm glad you managed to interpret my messages correctly, and that there's no misunderstanding in regards to that.

          • Robjection says:

            It's not just about going to great lengths to ensure that the woman you're with is actually comfortable. It's also about how you ensure that the woman you're with is actually comfortable. I can believe that you have the best intentions, but the best intentions don't always translate to the best actions.

          • Yes, sure. That's the case with everything, but that doesn't justify what Cat just said.

          • It sort of does, because the damage you do by pushing someone into sex they don't want is far greater than holding out on them a little too long. How you compare manipulating/forcing your will onto someone and being too tentative is completely ridiculous. And the problem itself is pretty unnecessary. If she wonders "What's taking you so long?" then tell her just that "I'm just kinda wondering if you're really alright with this?". If she says "Sure I am, I'm here aren't I?", then it's green lights. It's not nuclear physics.

          • Sure. I don't really see why you think I'd disagree with that.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Um. . .either you're incorrect or you're defining woman differently than I am because I've had women initiate plenty of times.

          • I second what eselle said. Women are not conditioned to never initiate sex. In fact, there are tons of mainstream magazines and blogs dedicated to telling women *how* to initiate sex in sexy ways. The conditioning is more to not initiate sex "too soon" in a relationship, and not to seem overly wild. I've honestly never seen any pressure at all against initiating vanilla sex with a guy you're in an established relationship with.

          • Well like I said in the comment above, i'm not saying "never" in the sense that it never happens in any situation whatsoever, but that it rarely happens in situations where there is a bigger likelihood to be confusion or nervousness.

          • In which situations is there a "bigger likelihood to be confusion or nervousness"? I agree that probably the majority of women (not sure how big a majority, but more than not) hesitate to initiate their first sexual encounter with any given person. But that's just one encounter out of potentially thousands that would come after with that person. And I think once a sexual relationship has been established, women are quite likely to initiate on a fairly regular basis. So if the only time you'd say they rarely initiate is when it's the first time, then that applies to very few actual sexual encounters, and in most sexual encounters, it's not even rare.

          • I wasn't even aware that we were talking about anything *but* the first few encounters, as the likelihood of this being a problem would decrease the further into a relationship you get.

          • Why would you assume we were only talking about the first few encounters? The article explicitly talks about long-term relationships and so on. In your very first comment, you referenced "every single sexual encounter" with the person's "partner", not just early sexual encounters with a new partner. We can't psychically know you mean one thing when you don't actually say it, and do say a whole lot that sounds like you're talking about sex in general.

          • Where does it talk about long term relationships? And yes, I meant "partner" in the context of "sex partner". Why would enthusiastic consent be as relevant in established relationships as during the first few encounters?

          • Robjection says:

            Again, the section titled Communicate! Communicate! Communicate! talks about the relevance of enthusiastic consent in long-term relationships.

          • Well, that seemed like more of a side issue to me?

          • fakely mctest says:

            Because there's such a thing as intimate partner rape.

          • I said why would it be AS relevant, not why would it be relevant.

          • I feel like this is going in circles… Nothing we say will change this kid's mind.

          • fakely mctest says:

            Agreed. Props to people more patient than I will likely ever be.

            I feel like something along these lines crops up every time there's a discussion on the subject. It's always such a derailment.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Its like Jurassic Park. It always starts close enough to reasonable that it seems worthy of discussion. . . then someone lets the T-Rex out and there's lots of running and screaming and I move from trying to be convincing to trying to be amusing in the fewest words possible. I admit I was deliberately fanning it here and there because this article totally deserves to be in the top 6 sidebar.

          • It's going in circles because nobody is addressing all of my arguments and are instead attacking the single one that, on its own, is easiest to refute and make fun of. Their inability to stick to the subject without making irrelevant comments or jokes is astonishing. No wonder it's not getting anywhere.

          • We're only making fun of you because you are so incredibly wrong and so incredibly unwilling to consider, even for a second, that you might be incredibly wrong.

            But seriously, "I've had sex with a bunch of different kinds of women and none of them have been overtly excited about it" sound like an issue with you, not the women.

            Because I've had sex with multiple women and they all have been overtly excited about it.

          • I'm not saying that none of the women I had sex with were excited about it. I'm saying that what you people consider "enthusiastic consent" doesn't free the situation of the likelihood that the woman still isn't going to feel good about it.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            No, you're really not. Today is the first time you've said it. Repeating it doesn't make it your original proposition. Without looking back that was something like "women never initiate and never give unambiguous consent the first time, so this is unreasonable."

          • I've responded to that in my response to Mel a couple of threads below this one.

          • And I've had sex with a bunch of men and I was only overtly excited about the ones I wanted to have sex with…

            EDIT: Also, my sample size is bigger than yours!

          • I am a woman. I initiate sex all the time. Fuck off.

          • what jay said.

        • I think you're hanging out with the wrong people. Now I'm wondering how old you are. Most women in my generation and younger (I'm in my early 30s) great up in a pretty sex-positive atmosphere. If you're a fair bit older than that, it may be that the women you're running into grew up with more constrictive attitudes and that's why you're running into it more than I think is really common.

          And seriously, "They'll always agree to have sex"? No woman ever turns you down? Again, this is not a universal experience. Even Paul talked about women explicitly turning guys down.

          If you don't feel the other person's acting enthusiastic, and it's making you worried that they're not really into it, then don't push the question until they're annoyed. Say something like, "You know, I'm not really feeling this after all, let's just cuddle" or whatever. There's no reason that *you* have to continue having sex that feels off to you, just because they've given verbal consent. If it seems to happen a lot, then you sit down with them sometime when sex isn't on the table, and discuss how they can communicate with you if they want to stop or if they feel up for X but not Y or whatever.

          Maybe this means there are some women you won't have sex with. Oh well. That doesn't mean enthusiastic consent isn't worth waiting for.

          • I'm about your age, and I've dated or slept with maybe 20 women, which includes personality types ranging from your typical party girl to sexually liberated feminists. I'd say I have enough experience on the scale to safely say that if there's one thing they all share, it's an initial sexual inhibition and a total inability to be sexually explicit at ANY point in the relationship, where their sexual advances amount to trying to lure you into a situation where you, as a guy, are likely to kiss them, so that they can sexualize the situation from there.

            And regarding women never declining sex, I was talking about my personal experiences. Women rarely decline sex when I ask since I tend to have given them several opportunities to call it a night prior to that, which I guess makes it unlikely for someone who doesn't want sex to even have gotten to the point where you'd be asking them for it.

            Also, if I was to follow your suggestion, I'd still be a virgin. I find that most women find my sensitivity and awareness to be a pain in the ass if anything, and I myself find it annoying, but still necessary.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            They do have one other thing in common that might be worth examining. . .

          • Heh. But that would mean HE could be at fault! And that could NEVER be an option…

          • No, go ahead, feel free to post the biggest cliche in the history of dating advice. I bet nobody gets tired of hearing "maybe the problem is not with your dates, but with yourself" as if that held any truth or value.

            It's a stupid dating proverb, and that's all it is.

          • Robjection says:

            Are you implying that you are completely perfect in every way? If so, I'm calling bullshit. If not, then that cliché holds some truth.

          • I'm not perfect, but that doesn't mean that whenever someone notices a behavior in the opposite sex, the explanation is that there's some sort of magical psychological imperative that causes the person to date people of that kind, in a lame attempt to disregard any generalizations about the opposite sex as confirmation bias.

          • Actually, it is completely rational that if you are observing a behavior in the opposite sex towards you, over and over again, to deduce that you are the common factor rather than extrapolate a fairly small sample size to describe the entire population. Because, math.

          • Rational, sure, but the case could just as well be that there are common denominators among women.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Unless other people observe completely different recurring behaviors or people in your target group display different behaviors to people other than you.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            QED

          • It's a cliche because it's usually true.

          • No, it's a cliché because of the prevalent, americanized Dr. Phil logic that says that just because something sounds like a slogan or sounds simple, it must be true. In reality it's bullshit.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            OK, I'll use your logical argument style here:
            Do you agree that people have attitudes which they take for granted?
            Do you agree that those attitudes color their perception?
            Do you agree those attitudes stay with them across relationships?
            So wouldn't that mean that those attitudes could indeed cause common problems that recur in the person's relationships?

            All else being equal, someone who has the same problem in every relationship more likely brought it with themm

          • Yeah, but that doesn't mean that "umm….. scuuuuuse me, but have you um…. perhaps considered that YOU might be the problem in this little situation?????? yep, taking it to the next level with my insightful comments." isn't a ridiculous recurring response.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Well, if you keep getting the response, there's one thing in. . .ok, this time I'm just kidding because we've gone SO far off the rails.

          • what could that be?

          • Well, I wonder if you live in a particularly conservative part of the world then, because it seems incredibly unusual to me, and out of line with what I've heard from many men and women I've talked to, that every woman you've been with was totally unable to be sexually explicit. Or maybe you are so hyper-concerned with constantly checking with women to make sure they don't want to call it a night that you are inadvertently appealing to women who want a guy who'll completely take the lead and not expect them to initiate? I don't know.

            But if you expect me to say, yes, it's totally more important that you not be a virgin than that your partners actually wanted to have sex with you, that's not going to happen. I'm sorry you've apparently had such bad experiences, but as I and others are telling you, they are not the norm.

          • I live in a liberal part of the world, and yes, I am concerned with the women I'm sleeping with not being comfortable given the fact that I've had them tell me so afterwards despite my doing more than what's reasonable to make sure it never gets to that point.

            I still don't see any reason to believe that this wouldn't be a norm, since female sexual assertiveness is shamed, and since women are conditioned to be unassertive in general.

          • "I still don't see any reason to believe that this wouldn't be a norm, since female sexual assertiveness is shamed, and since women are conditioned to be unassertive in general."

            You keep making these statements as if saying them enough times will make them facts.

            I am telling you, as a woman, who has grown up with all the social pressures that society throws at women, that the shaming around sex that I have felt has been solely around 1) making the first move with a new guy, 2) agreeing to have sex "too soon", and 3) being "too" kinky/wild/whatever. I have never gotten the impression from pop culture, the media, etc. that it was a bad thing to initiate sex within an existing relationship or to show enthusiasm for sex if I was feeling enthusiastic. I have never talked to a woman who said she felt it would be wrong to show enthusiasm for sex or to initiate it with an existing partner. So I do not believe you when you tell me that apparently society has been attempting to condition me in this way. I think I would have noticed.

          • I'm still talking about first sexual encounters though. When the situation is more secure and the partners are more accustomed to each other, the woman is more likely to feel comfortable being sexual.

          • You don't seem to have a problem talking over actual women who are talking about their opinions and experiences here, so I am rather skeptical of your "I totes care about women" shtick.

          • So my experiences with how women express themselves during sexual encounters is not as valid as women expressing how they think they're perceived during sexual encounters? Okay.

          • Yep. Our lived experiences trump your loved experiences when it comes to issues about us. You don't get to decide things are paternalistic for us, thanks, and I am 100% okay with men shutting up and listening to women about anything related to women.

          • I get to decide how vague I consider my sexual encounters with women, which I think is as valid as a woman telling me how she expresses herself during a sexual encounter.

          • No. No, you absolutely do not. Stop making this all about you. Stop seeing what you want to see. You are . . . literally the worst, because you think you have it all figured out. You think that so long as your partners are enough into it FOR YOU, everything is dandy. But that isn't how it works. It especially isn't how it works because you don't even want to invest in striving for more enthusiastic, obvious consent at all. You don't care about your partners. This is all about you and this is gross.

          • I disagree. I think I do get to decide that I think the women I've been with have been vague about their feelings, which has forced me to be extra careful and adamant about getting to the bottom of what's going on. I don't think that makes me a bad person, and I don't think you have any business making such rude statements about me.

          • Fine, you can define whatever you want, but you have to be willing to accept that your perceptions about an oppressed group you aren't in might be wrong. You can't just keep talking over women. You especially can't keep whining about how the poor women made you communicate with them to have sex, how horrid! It's gross.

          • You don't even have a clue what the discussion is about. Kindly keep your comments to yourself until you've read the thread before accusing me of being some kind of bully rapist, jerk.

          • You repeatedly override women who tell you differently on anything you claim. You are never wrong, only right. Gee, no wonder no woman ever says "no" to you, because it's pointless to try to say "no" to you.

            That's a red flag. You should check on that.

          • The reason why I believe my claims to make more sense is because it's supported by social conditioning, and also because the women who disagree on here are part of a culture (the nerd scene) that is intellectual in nature, which means that they're probably more likely to question norms that the large majority don't.

          • x_Sanguine_8 says:

            personally, i am sick to DEATH with all this "social conditioning" nonsense. it seems to me like a cop-out for taking responsibility for one's own decisions in life. Yes, our culture and those who have authority over us in our formative years have considerable influence over us. But people have always had the ability to go against those pressures, even if it is very difficult or costly at times. Human society would be homogenous and stagnant if we couldn't. Neither women nor men are completely at the mercy of society and its pressures. Stop treating women as if they cannot resist society, and stop using society as an excuse for your crappy behaviour.

          • fakely mctest says:

            Personally, I want to see this dude's sociological credentials. Bold assertions require a higher burden of proof and all that. As far as I can see, the only support he's offered to prop up this tired old trope of "social conditioning" is jokes made by unnamed comedians and vague allusions to pop culture.

          • You can scroll down to my discussion with Mel about social conditioning for a more lengthy explanation.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Everyone thinks their claim makes more sense. Back it up.

          • Scroll down to my discussion with Mel about social conditioning.

          • Wow, that's a really neat way to win an argument! "You may be a walking, talking contradiction to my argument, but I'm still right because I am going to arbitrarily define my argument so you don't count!"

            We have a No True Scotsman in Aisle 3, folks, No True Scotsman in Aisle 3.

          • Jay I'm sorry, I accidentally clicked the down vote when I was aiming for the up and now it won't let me change it. /sob

          • Misandry!

          • Robjection says:

            OK, go find some women who are willing to be more sexually assertive. Maybe you'll have to go through hundreds of less assertive women, but if enthusiastic sex is so great, surely it'll be worth it. Thus rondy's big problem in life has been solved.

          • I have a good sex life, thanks.

          • Robjection says:

            Then why are you here?

          • Because a good sex life isn't everything?

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Then why aren't you listening to the many women who are telling you what sort of behavior would make you more appealing to them?

          • What?

          • Robjection says:

            While true, that doesn't really answer my question. If you are not here to improve your sex life, then which of the many other valid reasons for being here is the one you choose? In other words, why are you here?

            If it is to be more appealing to women, then as Gentleman Johnny implies, it does not make sense to disregard women who advise you on that front.

          • I'm here to take in perspectives other than my own and to improve in any way I can, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to blindly accept the claims of whoever identifies as female and has an opinion opposite to mine.

            If I'm going to agree with them, then I'd have to see a logical argument that runs a bit deeper than "im a woman and i disagree so fuck you" which to me is just childish.

            I've given many reasonable arguments that supports the idea that my theory has a greater likelihood of being correct, but nobody here (except for Mel I think) seems to be able to get past the anecdotal evidence argument I made, while refusing to move past that and discuss the other arguments I've presented.

            So yeah. No wonder the discussion is going in circles. None of you are moving past that point.

          • fakely mctest says:

            Oh snap. Someone alert the Oxford-stye debate police.

            You might want to look up "tone argument," just sayin'.

          • fakely mctest says:

            *style dangit.

          • "A tone argument is an argument used in discussions, sometimes by Concern trolls and sometimes as a Derailment, in which it is suggested that feminists would be more successful if only they expressed themselves in a more pleasant tone."

            Where did I say this?

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Quote
            If I'm going to agree with them, then I'd have to see a logical argument that runs a bit deeper than "im a woman and i disagree so fuck you" which to me is just childish.

            unquote

          • So you are saying that by demanding a more reasonable argument from you if you expect to change my mind, I'm claiming that feminism would be more successful if it used a more pleasant tone?

            That makes no sense.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I'm saying the above quoted sounds a lot like dismissing someone based on tone.

          • …what.

          • fakely mctest says:

            There were plenty of women who engaged you in good faith on this thread; you keep screeching about "social conditioning." Your arguments are tired and not anything that I'd reckon the people in this thread who follow discussions of consent and rape culture haven't heard a billon times before.

            AND YET, here you are insisting that the parts of the discussion where people are just fed up with your unexamined, reductive, utterly unsupported BS are the only parts that exist. And here you are insisting that this means the debate is invalid and, I assume, you're chalking it up to a win on your internal tally board. That is the quintessence of tone argument.

          • I think Mel and eselle28 are the only ones who have been discussing this in a constructive and rational manner, while people like you, Gentleman Johnny and Robjection have been doing little more than posting one-liners and getting upset when I disagree with said one-liners.

          • fakely mctest says:

            So what? I'm not required to address said unexamined, reductive, totally unsupported BS. And it's not like you've been listening to any of their arguments either, even if the tone is more to your liking or whatever. From where I sit I could give thoughtful, well-considered answers and be treated with the same levels of disdain.

            p.s. you might want to back off the use of the word "rational" there, sparky.

          • I'm not asking you to address anything, since I'm having a better time talking to Mel and eselle28. I'm just responding to your complaint that I'm not listening.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I'm here to take in perspectives other than my own and to improve in any way I can,

            You've been offered the perspectives of several people, you just choose to ignore them. You've been offered a lot more than "I disagree, fuck you", you have simply chosen to invalidate it because it disagrees with your perspective.

          • I don't think there are that many among you who make a good case for yourselves, and you seem to think the same about me. I appreciate your input, but few people here communicate in a way that makes me willing to accept their perspective.

          • fakely mctest says:

            You're free to leave if the discussion here isn't up to your intellectual standards.

          • I just wish you'd give me arguments instead of making these useless comments, because all you're doing is passive-aggressively accusing me of approaching the discussion with a flawed behavior.

            If you disagree with what I'm saying, or how I say it, then POINT IT OUT instead of making these generalized accusations that are impossible for me to respond to.

          • You are approaching the discussion with a flawed behavior.

            You're asserting that personal/anecdotal experience alone is insufficient to support an argument, but you're relying primarily on your personal experience. You also are relying on your "conditioning" argument, which you have more or less ignored/avoided any request that you substantiate it. You've failed to establish a position of credibility or expertise for yourself, have been dismissive of arguments that contradict your point of view instead of engaging with them, and refuse to admit that you, as the common factor in your relationships, may be the problem.

            When you try to engage in a debate, but you set ground rules of "I don't have to support anything I say, I reserve the right to disregard anything you say, even if it is supported, and I'm taking any discussion of whether or not I may be part of the problem off the table, no matter how much my behavior here today reinforces the notion that I'm the most likely cause of the problem," you aren't actually engaging in a debate. You're yelling out into the internet and ignoring/dismissing every response that disagrees with you.

            You can claim that you want someone to actually debate/argue/disagree with you all you want, but when your behavior shows that you are not interested in engaging in an honest debate, no one has a responsibility to continue to treat you respectfully, no matter how much you might insist otherwise.

            That is to say, if you're going to make an ass out of yourself, you don't get to complain when others point out what an ass you're making of yourself.

          • Ah, I've found one more thing I do have to say.

            "I've given many reasonable arguments that supports the idea that my theory has a greater likelihood of being correct"

            As far as I can tell, your theory is that most women are rarely able to show complete enthusiasm for sex (whether initiating it or in response to a guy initiating it)–that they are passive to the point that even when they totally want to have sex, they will act ambivalent. Yes?

            Other than the "anecdotal evidence argument" which you're saying you want people to move past, the "many reasonable arguments" you've given include… the assertion that women are socially conditioned to be passive. And? I'm not seeing that you've brought up any arguments other than "this is what I've experienced and heard from people I know" (anecdotal) and "social conditioning". If there are more to these "many" arguments, feel free to point them out.

            So, social conditioning. You say this supports the idea that your theory (noted above) has a greater likelihood of being correct. A greater likelihood of being correct than *what*? I agree, it has a greater likelihood of being correct than the theory that, say, women are so sexually voracious that they pounce on any handsome guy who walks into a room and immediately have their way with him. But… no one is offering that as an alternate theory.

            My theory (one which seems to be echoed by other people here): Women are socially conditioned to be more passive about sex than men. Therefore most women are less likely to explicitly initiate sex than men, and may feel more uncomfortable making specific explicit requests (e.g., asking for oral, for a certain sexual position). However, because they are fully-functioning human beings who are capable of basic communication and expression of emotion beyond their social conditioning, most women will show clear enthusiasm for sex with a partner (new or established) whom they are completely enthusiastic about having sex with, through their body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, verbal responses to inquiries, etc.

            Does "social conditioning" support your theory better than mine? Mine also says that social conditioning has an impact. How does the mere existence of social conditioning make it more likely that women are socially conditioned to the extent you theorize, rather than to the extent that I theorize?

            I offer the following additional supporting evidence that my theory has a greater likelihood of being correct than yours:

            -Men are socially conditioned to be sexually aggressive. However, most men are capable of pausing in the middle of physical intimacy to ask whether their partner wants to go from making out to having sex, and to back off if the woman says no (proof that most human beings can and regularly do behave in ways contrary to their social conditioning, even during sex).

            -Similarly, men recent near constant messages that they are supposed to be sexually insatiable and want sex all the time. Yet most men are capable of not attempting to initiate sex when they don't happen to feel interested in it, even if their partner is nearby and may be willing.

            -Women are socially conditioned to think one of their main purposes in life is to have babies. And yet in spite of this conditioning, most women are capable of choosing to delay having kids, and to have fewer kids, than women did even a generation ago, because of increased alternate opportunities they can pursue instead.

            I could go on, but I think for now those points should suffice to show that my theory has a greater likelihood of being true than yours. If you would like to offer further points that support your theory more than mine, you are welcome to.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            My theory (one which seems to be echoed by other people here): Women are socially conditioned to be more passive about sex than men. Therefore most women are less likely to explicitly initiate sex than men, and may feel more uncomfortable making specific explicit requests (e.g., asking for oral, for a certain sexual position). However, because they are fully-functioning human beings who are capable of basic communication and expression of emotion beyond their social conditioning, most women will show clear enthusiasm for sex with a partner (new or established) whom they are completely enthusiastic about having sex with, through their body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, verbal responses to inquiries, etc.

            Yeah, that. Although I personally find the "less likely" and "more uncomfortable" parts to be slight enough that they probably need an adverb in front of them.

          • Yeah, I think it's probably only slightly less/more, once you average things out across all women, but I didn't figure this was a good time to get that nitpicky about specifics when we're having so much trouble just with the generalities. :P

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I just wanted to say something more than "what she said". :)

          • Thanks for taking the discussion further, Mel, and yes, I agree with everything you said.

            My opinion is that due to the differences in the conditions that men and women live under, there are many factors that can cause a woman to give consent but still cause her pain during a sexual encounter.

            Think of the following factors from the perspective of a guy:
            1. The woman has a different personality or framework of communication compared to you, where her expressions of enthusiasm might look like disinterest to you.
            2. She, as a woman, has been conditioned to please men and to perform sexual acts that she might not feel comfortable with but thinks she is expected to.
            3. She might have had negative sexual experiences in the past which creates a set of triggers that you aren't aware of, and she isn't sure if/how she should express them either before, during or after the intercourse.
            4. She, as a woman, has grown up in a society that calls a woman "bitch" for being assertive or aggressive, which has conditioned her into not being as vocal about her feeling as a man is allowed to be.
            5. She, as a woman, lives under a greater threat from you, the man, which can therefor complicate the intentions of your communication with her.

            So, is all of the above true for all women? No. But is the majority of women likely to have been affected by at least one or two of these points? Probably.

            So how exactly does "enthusiastic consent" account for any or all of the above? Because I sure as hell think that women can be good at hiding these things and give enthusiastic consent while still feeling pretty god damn bad about it.

          • Also, I know a LOT of women who agree to have sex despite losing interest just because they feel that they led the guy on.

          • Well here you go:

            "According to the survey, one in ten women agreed to sex under extreme pressure as they feared their partner would get angry if they said No.

            A quarter said they felt they had 'led him on' and believed it would therefore be unfair to resist at the last minute."

            Note how this isn't about assault or coercion, but expectations.

          • "Susie Orbach, psychotherapist and writer, said the findings showed that, although modern women were more assertive, they still felt an obligation to meet men's needs.

            She said: 'Despite women's sense of freedom and choice today, girls still imbibe the idea that they should look after others' needs and take care of them and not disappoint and insist "No, no, no.'' '"

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Um. . .no. The first one is the definition of coercion. "fear of". The second is just icky. There's also a big difference between "yes, get it over with" and enthusiastic consent. The former is a lot more likely to look like the "shyness" you describe elsewhere, which is why people are suspicious of minimizing of a woman's failure to positively engage in sex.

          • You're missing the larger picture because you're too busy nitpicking over stuff that is easy to confirm even if you remove whatever aspect you've found that you don't like.

            Not going to argue with you anymore since I think you can easily find answers on Google to the ridiculous objections you have against my claims.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            No, you just make the point poorly. You start with textbook coercion and say "its not about coercion but perception". What you presented is equally about both.

          • I've provided 7 examples of common issues among women, and I'm claiming that they are collectively going to result in most women having sexual intercourse against their will at some point in their lives even though they may appear to consent to it.

            Look at these 7 factors, and assume that they on their own cover an ever so small part of the female population, say 5%, then add them together and tell me it isn't a big problem.

          • eselle28 says:

            Sure, it's a big problem. But it's an even bigger problem that men are having sex with women who aren't enthusiastic and who don't appear to be enthusiastic.

            Why don't we stop some of that, and generally cultivate an attitude of erring on the side of not having sex if things are in doubt? That part alone will make it easier for people to adjust to partners' faked enthusiasm.

            "No means no," isn't the ultimate answer either, but it was a necessary stop at a time when a lot of people weren't actually on board with that concept. Waving our hands about how it's all so hard doesn't actually solve social problems.

          • Let's not forget that women are later to explore their sexuality, if they do at all, and are less likely to seek out sexual gratification, chase orgasms, have orgasms, accept alternative sexual practices (until a later age), which would increase the likelihood of a woman not enjoying the intercourse, or feeling concerned about it, compared to the man.

            Also, since men and women are socialized into playing the hunter-hunted game, women are going to be more likely to constantly second-guess whether they're fine with the sex they're having, if they feel okay about "giving it up" and so forth, while men are too busy busting a nut over winning the prize that they're not really concerned with anything else.

            Again, not saying that this applies to everyone, but they are two more factors to add to the list.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Nice claim. Evidence?

          • http://goaskalice.columbia.edu/masturbating-stats

            If you want something more reliable, google for it. We all know it to be true.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            That demonstrates your first paragraph nicely, thank you. That's all I was asking. Its a pretty far cry from your second, though. Going farther, I'd agree that what you suggest is a factor in some cases, but we both know our disagreement is who's expectations are closer to the majority.

            The real issue (since you asked elsewhere) is the whole "women are so socially conditioned that they can not be expected to show enthusiastic consent" proposition that started this all. You have yet to show viable evidence that this is a real issue with any meaningful portion of the population. Does it apply to some women? Sure. Does it apply to a meaningful portion of the population who are otherwise difficult to differentiate? You haven't really given much more than your opinion on that yet.

          • You're approaching the issue from the perspective that for there to be a problem with consent, women have to suffer the consequences repeatedly.

            What I'm suggesting is because all of these factors that I've suggested affect women to a large extent, even if they don't encompass the majority of women on their own, they are, lumped together, most likely going to cause the majority of women to at some or several points in their lives going to have sex against their will, even though they may appear to consent to it.

            And that's me being pretty nice about the issue.

          • eselle28 says:

            So how does this tie in with your complaints about paternalism or your initial gripe that "By your standards, a person would have to refuse every single sexual encounter where their partner has either had a few glasses of wine, or isn't uninhibitedly and visibly enthusiastic about having sex despite the fact that this isn't how most women behave in bed"?

            I think everyone here agrees that there are going to be a handful of women who really do a good job of faking enthusiasm. It's good to try to stop them from having sex they don't want. But there are EVEN MORE women who are having sex because their partners badgered them into it, or they were too drunk to even remember what happened, or they swatted away the guy's hand a bunch of times and then gave up trying to say no, or who are being limp and a little passive aggressive. Let's start with a model that tells guys not to have sex with those women and reduce the number of unwanted sexual experiences. I would say a model of saying no when your partner doesn't seem enthusiastic is a good start on that.

          • Yes, this! Rondy, if you're so concerned about the fact that many women feel pressure to have sex they don't want to have (and I don't disagree with you on this part), I don't understand why you're arguing AGAINST the idea that you should watch for signs of enthusiasm and not have sex with someone who seems unenthusiastic. That's the best way I can think of to avoid having sex with someone who is unenthusiastic about having sex, for whatever reason.

            If this is important to you, why would you want to have sex with someone who isn't showing enthusiasm? And, if your experience is that it's hard for your sex partners to be clear about their wants, the best way to help them be more clear is to show them that you care about what they actually want (by asking, by paying attention to non-verbal cues) and by respecting it when they do indicate they don't want to have sex.

          • That article was published almost fifteen years ago and cites reports that are at least two decades old now. The Janus Report was great for its time and all, but it is getting fucking old and really serves no purpose in this discussion. I am extremely skeptical of the idea that it can be accurately applied to the modern generation of people in their teens to forties.

          • Robjection says:

            Except if a woman feels pretty god damn bad about it even before it's begun, why would she give enthusiastic consent in the first place? If a woman doesn't want to have sex but is pressured by society to have it, it makes more sense for her to give unenthusiastic consent* with the not-that-subtle subtext of "I guess if I have to then let's get this over with". I do not see anything that says social conditioning prompts women to fake eagerness (note: not the same as willingness) to have sex. If anything, you and all the other sources I've seen on the subject seem to be suggesting that social conditioning prompts them to be the exact opposite of eager.

            Therefore, if a woman is enthusiastically consenting, this is not because of social conditioning. It might be in spite of a strong influence from social conditioning on that particular woman, or it might be that social conditioning's effect is ultimately insignificant to that particular woman. In some cases, there may be some other external force that is conditioning her not just to consent but to be enthusiastic about it, such as an employer. That, however, is entirely separate to what you have been talking about. And if a woman is unenthusiastically consenting, then at the end of the day, which is more important: one sexual encounter or not being considered (rightfully or otherwise) a rapist?

            So if you subscribe to enthusiastic consent, then maybe you only end up having sex with women who communicate in the same way you do and who will happily tell you in no uncertain terms when they do and do not wish to perform certain sexual acts (and which sexual acts are off the table) because they aren't afraid of being forward and do not feel threatened by you at all. The downside to of all that is … what exactly?

            * Compared to giving enthusiastic consent.

          • Oh. My. God.

            Wow.

            Please don't have sex with anyone until you understand that enthusiastic consent isn't an indication that the person is actually one hundred percent emotionally enthusiastic about having sex.

            You REALLY need to understand this.

          • Robjection says:

            Then what is an indication that the person is actually one hundred percent emotionally enthusiastic about having sex? Because so far, enthusiastic consent is the closest thing we have.

          • You're looking for a clear solution while there isn't any. What you should be searching for is a deeper understanding so that you can respond more appropriately than assuming that everything is okay just because you've gotten what you think is enthusiastic consent, and based on your post you really, really, really need to understand, first and foremost, that a woman can appear to be enthusiastic while she's really just looking to please you at her own expense, and that there are other such cases that are important to be aware of.

          • eselle28 says:

            Rondy, I think that you really, really need to understand that you have apparently had sex with several women who did not appear to be enthusiastic, and who were just looking to please you at their own expense.

            Your insistence that women will always manifest some kind of shyness or reluctance or passivity, even if they're genuinely enthusiastic, kind of takes away your credibility on this point. Yeah, a lot of women who are passive and following someone else's lead are not actually all that enthused about sex – and they're not showing any kind of enthusiasm for it, either. This model suggests that you don't have sex with those women.

            There will be a vastly smaller number of cases where a woman is aggressively making out with you, tearing your clothes off, and begging you to do things to her where it will turn out that she was putting on an act to please you. You can take care of those small number of cases through communication, but that doesn't negate the larger and more common problem addressed above.

          • I'm not implying that women are always shy or reluctant. I'm implying that there are a lot of issues that will probably cause women to appear enthusiastic while having sex against their will. Please see my in-depth explanation in response to Mel in the thread below this one.

          • eselle28 says:

            I'm not denying that this sometimes happens. But I've read your description of your sexual encounters. Your partners did not appear enthusiastic. You had sex with at least some of them anyway. Instead of classifying those encounters as fuckups, you attribute them to social conditioning and women being conditioned to be passive about sex.

          • Everything you need to know about what I'm trying to say has been explained in Mel's thread. If you don't see how the definition I've given her is related to my comments about my own sexual experiences then we might as well drop it, because I don't feel like having to explore whatever misconception you've gotten about my sex life.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            No one's saying "if you get a yes, fuck everything else". The idea under discussion, enthusiastic consent, is exactly about understanding and communication.

          • Yeah, but that's not being explored particularly well. The article just rationalizes "no means no" vs. "enthusiastic yes", and I don't think that's enough.

          • So, you're trying to say that you agree that looking for an enthusiastic yes is a good first step, but we need to do more to acknowledge the importance of creating a safe situation for a woman to show her lack of enthusiasm, because she may not always feel it's safe to do so?

            If so, this is very, very different from your initial arguments. What I, and I think almost everyone else here, took you to mean originally was that it's impossible to tell whether a woman is enthusiastic, so you shouldn't bother paying attention to that.

            I'd suggest that you try and be more clear on your stance if you want to have a productive discussion.

          • Robjection says:

            So … which is it? If a man is not 100% certain that the woman he wishes to have sex with is genuinely enthusiastic, is it OK for him to have sex with that woman?

            If yes, then … well, unless you'd like to propose an alternative that we can put into practice, the enthusiastic consent model is the closest thing we have to a 100%, and therefore if that is not a sufficient standard then you might as well say that no, a man can't have sex with a woman unless he is 100% certain that the woman is genuinely enthusiastic. But to be honest, I'd like to see you propose such an alternative. Not a wishy-washy one like "getting a little deeper", but some concrete suggestions that we can apply as needed.

            If no, then … well, I'm calling hypocrisy on account of you violating that principle no fewer than 20 times.

          • eselle28 says:

            The only alternative I can see is encouraging people to not have sex at all, or at least not to have sex with people of the opposite gender.

          • Robjection says:

            I personally could go the rest of my life without having sex at all, but I imagine I'm the only one here who that would be true for.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Seriously? REALLY? After changing your argument and still presenting no compelling evidence, you feel like you know enough to tell someone not to have sex with a woman who is enthusiasticaly consenting?

            Also, enthusiastic consent isn't necessarily (or just) the word yes. Try arguing based on what we're actually discussing.

          • Wait, wait,

            I'm pretty sure that being "100% emotionally enthusiastic about having sex" and "having enthusiastic consent" are like, literally the same thing. So you're saying that that enthusiastic consent isn't an indication of enthusiastic consent.

          • Rondy, I'm glad that you appreciate my attempts to take the discussion further, but I'd appreciate it if you'd stop changing your arguments around so you can say that I'm wrong to have disagreed with you.

            Before you were saying that women aren't capable of showing clear enthusiasm for sex because they're taught to be passive. Now suddenly you seem to be arguing that your point is that women can seem to be clearly enthusiastic when really they're not. These are contradictory statements. Either women are so socially conditioned to be passive they can't show clear enthusiasm for sex even when they are enthusiastic, or women are so socially conditioned to please men that they can show clear enthusiasm even when they're not enthusiastic. Both cannot be true. Either women are capable of showing clear enthusiasm or they aren't.

            In response to your more recent points, I would agree that you can never be completely sure that a woman really is going to be happy about having sex no matter how enthusiastic she appears to be, because she could be a very good actor. But I think this is a pretty rare case (most people are not that good at acting), and if you did happen to have sex with a woman who put on a perfect act of being completely enthusiastic and gave no obvious sign that she's hesitant or disinterested, and then she got upset at you afterward, you are not at fault. What on earth is she going to say to you–"You should have read my mind and known I was pretending"? If there's nothing she can point to that should have been an obvious sign to tip you off, then there's no reason you should feel it's your fault for not knowing.

            Again, I think this is a rare situation and there almost always are obvious signs if a woman is conflicted or hesitant that contradict her attempts to show enthusiasm. She might say, "Yes, let's have sex," but in a hesitant voice. She might say it in an upbeat voice, but once you get into bed, she just lies there. She might say it in an upbeat voice and be touching you etc., but have a grimace on her face. Or cringe or tense up when you move closer. Etc. If you see those signs, it doesn't matter how many times she verbally says, "Yes," you stop. Because, are there women who are so worried about their partner getting upset with them that they'll agree to sex they don't want? Sure. But we are not taught how to be perfect actors or how to perfectly repress our feelings, and the vast majority of women will show obvious signs like the above that their consent is not actually enthusiastic. The article you quote from actually supports this–she isn't saying that women will pretend to be *enthusiastic* about sex, she say they'd *agree* to it and be hesitant to outright say *no*. Being scared to say "no" is very different from being able to pretend a totally enthusiastic "yes". Which is exactly why DNL and most of the commenters here are saying that it's better to get clear enthusiasm than just the absence of a "no" or a grudging "yes, all right."

            Can you ever completely definitely absolutely know what is going on in someone else's head and what they're really feeling? No. But I think it's reasonable to say that someone who's happy is much more likely to act happy than someone who's not; someone who's uncomfortable is much more likely to act uncomfortable than someone who's not; someone who's enthusiastic is much more likely to act enthusiastic than someone who's not. Therefore, it makes far more sense to assume someone who shows signs of being uncomfortable is in fact uncomfortable than to assume otherwise, and to assume someone who appears completely enthusiastic is in fact completely enthusiastic.

            What other standard would you have us use? The other options are, pay no attention to how your partner appears to be feeling and just do whatever you want (which seems much more likely to result in your partner being upset than if you do pay attention), or, don't ever have sex with anyone because you can never know for sure if they really want it (which would result in the end of the human race).

          • Mel, I'd just like to say that your are perfectly articulating all the problems I've had with this guy's sudden change of topic, as welll as making a great explanation of the overalll issue. Virtual high fives.

          • Mel, I'm not trying to move my point around and I'm certainly not being elusive in an attempt to disprove you. If you should happen to end up proving me wrong, I'm not going to think much of it. I think there's just been a misunderstanding based on my assuming that everyone here is discussing the issue on a higher level than what is apparently the case.

            The reason why I claimed that women aren't capable of showing clear enthusiasm is because I believe the mere idea of "clear enthusiasm" to be an oxymoron in that context, and I think that the way Nerdlove discusses consent completely disregards any notion of consent-related issues existing beyond the surface of what a man is interpreting during a sexual encounter.

            You've already stated that you believe such problems to be close to nonexistent so I guess we'll have to disagree there, but based on the list of reasons I gave you I think it's safe to say that female sexuality is nested in multiple layers of confusion, uncertainty and denial which I believe will lead the majority of women to, at one or more occasions in their adult life, have seemingly enthusiastic sex against their will, and I don't think it's a good idea to ignore or disregard this. In fact, I'd expect Nerdlove to address this in addition to talking about the basic idea of not sleeping with someone who doesn't appear comfortable with it.

            As for the article I posted, it DOES address how women will kid themselves into thinking that they enjoy whatever representation of female sexuality that they believe they need to attain. How did you miss that? Or is it that you believe a woman couldn't possibly suppress her true emotions and believe herself to be enthusiastic, despite the fact that her emotions would say the opposite?

            So what I'm I suggesting? Well, how about exploring the issue beyond scratching the surface, and talking about the real, underlying issue of female sexuality, and how society shapes it into a man-pleasing, self-suppressing women's ideal? How about letting guys know about this, and teaching them to be aware of the fact that even though a woman might seem enthusiastic, there might, and probably is, more brewing below the surface that would be a good idea to connect with, or at least be respectful of?

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Evidence for your claims, please.

            Also, changing the subject to something significantly different enough from the core article to demand an article of its own is usually called "derailment" because more often than not its used to avoid the topic at hand. You're welcome to. . .wait for it. . .check the archives. . .where you'll find these other topics discussed and comment there.

          • Hi. Stop analyzing my discussion style and present arguments if there's anything you disagree with. Also, stop bouncing from thread to thread yelling "evidence" as if that's a valid response to a logical argument.

            Mel is obviously able to understand what I'm talking about, and we are both able to give each other the benefit of doubt in order to explore the issue further.

            You, on the other hand, are behaving like a baby. Kindly sod off.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Hi, no.

            If you want a logical argument, you must necessarily present evidence that is subject to scrutiny that demonstrates your side of the debate. Your opinions may be enough for Mel but they're not for me.

          • Present evidence that women are expressing their true intentions and that there couldn't possibly be any misconceptions beyond that. Present evidence on where social conditioning exists and where it doesn't, and why it stops where it does. Present evidence that explaining "enthusiastic consent" is going to have any effect on people who aren't intelligent and empathetic enough to already understand it. Present evidence that they don't need to be taught how to understand the conditions that women live under, and why this isn't relevant to them.

          • eselle28 says:

            Hi there. I think I'm your evidence on at least some of these points. I'm a woman. These days, I'm pretty good about expressing my true intentions and about being careful about my partners'. I was brought up in the same culture you're talking about, and in a relatively conservative Catholic family at that. Hell, when I was in high school, I was afraid to even smile at a boy because I didn't want them to get a hint at what a horny pervert I was. Since those days, I've moved away from that kind of social conditioning.

            In between those two points, I had a couple of really terrible relationships and also some single periods where most of my sexual encounters involved a lot of alcohol. In the former, my sexual boundaries were routinely pushed and disregarded (though probably not in the traditional ways you'd be thinking of). In the latter, I also ran into some of that and I also likely had sex with some people who just wanted to roll over and pass out.

            Even though I wasn't intelligent and empathetic enough to understand enthusiastic consent, I do understand it now, and I like the model.

            As for the understanding the conditions women live under argument, I think you're getting heavily into 'splaining territory. Johnny might be a guy, but most of the people you're arguing with are women.

          • Rondy, this is the last time I'm going to reply to you. I pointed out how you've made completely contradictory claims, and saying you thought we were talking on a "higher level" doesn't excuse that. Contradictions are contradictions. You didn't say before that you thought women couldn't show clear enthusiasm because no such thing exists–you said they couldn't show it because they were conditioned *not to show it*. Would you like a few quotes? Here:

            "a person would have to refuse every single sexual encounter where their partner… isn't uninhibitedly and visibly enthusiastic about having sex despite the fact that this isn't how most women behave in bed." (i.e., most women do not act visibly enthusiastic about having sex)

            "I think that during the initial encounters, a woman is likely to be utterly ambiguous" (utterly ambiguous = not showing clear enthusiasm)

            "I don't really feel any enthusiasm besides their following my lead"

            "I'd say that women are pretty inhibited and not at all likely to show enthusiasm or explicit or implicit consent despite wanting to have sex" (in the case of first time encounters)

            And those are just the most obvious ones. In what universe could any of those quotes possibly mean, "Women show enthusiasm for sex but you just can't tell for sure whether it's real enthusiasm"? They're saying the exact opposite–that most women *don't* or *can't* show anything that even looks like clear enthusiasm.

            If you can't even own up to the fact that you either made a mistake or expressed yourself in a totally unclear way, and instead think it's better to try to underhandedly insult the people trying to understand what you're getting at by implying that they're just not on as high a level as you, I see no reason to continue spending the time trying to pick apart your rambling and contradictory arguments. I'd prefer to talk with someone who can actually keep track of and take responsibility for what he's said, and doesn't resort to trying to belittle the people talking to him when they point out the obvious errors in his arguments. I think my previous comment addresses my thoughts on the rest of what you're saying here pretty well already, so we'll leave it at that. Best of luck sorting yourself out.

          • "there's just been a misunderstanding based on my assuming that everyone here is discussing the issue on a higher level than what is apparently the case."

            I know you didn't just imply what I think you did. Because we are not mere peons who are incapable of understanding your incredibly deep thesis. We are just astounded that you are so incredibly unwilling to consider, even for a moment, that you might be incorrect. This isn't middle school Debate Club. You don't get points for "winning" the argument. You just seem thickheaded.

            The fact is, you are coming across as both an asshole, and someone who is awful at communicating with people (probably because you assume that nobody can match you at the same intellectual level). So yeah, I think your anecdotal "evidence" can be thrown out, because, thankfully, yours does not represent the majority of sexual encounters.

          • "Mel, I'm not trying to move my point around and I'm certainly not being elusive in an attempt to disprove you."

            Go on. Exercise some more of that wishful thinking.

            I don't know who you've argued with in the past. But in this group, simply stating things is not evidence of those things being true.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            That's a nice opinion. I mean I find it patently false, bordering on morally repugnant but as a statement of opinion, it passes the technical bar. What its not is evidence of our position's accuracy.

            Your original argument was that women did not give enthusiastic consent. Now its that enthusiastic consent is somehow invalid. honestly don't know where to start on the latter. If a woman is pressing her body against you, lustily whispering "take me now", that's a yes.

            I can only assume you're being deliberately obtuse. If you're seriously still confused about how these strange creatures called "women" convey their consent in this alien language of theirs, try this: http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/m

          • First off, sexual encounters aren't as black and white as "take me now" vs. "please don't".

            Second, you aren't even addressing my points. Please address them DIRECTLY and stop linking to other websites or making vague, generalized statements about your overall impression of my attitude while expecting me to somehow connect the dots between whatever you're referring to and what you think I'm saying that you want to argue against.

            Seriously. Learn how to have a proper debate.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            This hasn't been a logical debate since the first time you refused anecdotal evidence while presenting only anecdotal evidence in return. I'm not a professional blogger or debater. This is me amusing myself.

            But if we're making requests, PLEASE present something that might actually be considered evidence for your initial proposition that women are incapable (or nearly so) of providing enthusiastic consent to their first sexual encounter with a given person.

            If you really want me to go back over all my comments and connect the dots, I'll do that but you'll have to do the same to follow along.

          • As I've said before, your question is explained in Mel's thread. In short, "enthusiastic consent" is an oxymoron based on the theory I present to Mel, and that's why I said it doesn't exist.

            If you want to respond to that, please do so in Mel's thread.

          • oxymoron- A figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction
            enthusiastic- Having or showing intense and eager enjoyment, interest, or approval.
            consent-Permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.
            Oxymoron is a contradiction in terms, the term enthusiastic is a qualifier, and doesn't contradict consent. You probably also think irony really is all of those things Alanis Morissette sang about. Research can be hard, but this stuff is basic google.

          • "I'm here to take in perspectives other than my own and to improve in any way I can"

            hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha good one

            This statement is false, and as evidence I present every comment you've made in this thread.

          • fakely mctest says:

            He is the actual worst.

          • You know that anyone who argues for something considers themselves to be the most objective party, right?

            I'm not going to deny that I've been pushy in this discussion, but are you really going to suggest that I'm the only one here who's refusing to take in other perspectives?

            In addition, I agree with a lot of the things that you people are arguing about on other subjects. I just don't agree on this one.

            Is that wrong?

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Got evidence yet?

          • Look at my discussion with Mel in the thread above this one.

          • Yeah that's not actually evidence of what you were claiming,

          • Maybe you can take your objections to that thread then. I'd love to hear it if you have a valid argument.

          • (I'm not being sarcastic)

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            How is one supposed to validly argue "you didn't present evidence"? Because it doesn't seem to be working so far.

          • Again, everything everyone's disagreeing with has been elaborated on in Mel's thread. There's nothing more to discuss anywhere else.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            You still have presented any non-anecdotal evidence that your opinion has any factual basis except for one quote. Feel free to present some any time.

          • Yep. Head over there if you want me to do so. If we're going to get anywhere it's best to continue the discussion where the most recent and most elaborate explanations have already been presented, rather than reiterating it elsewhere.

          • Johnny et. al.: "You haven't presented any evidence."
            Rondy: "Yes I did, it's right up there."
            Johnny et. al.: "That doesn't prove/support/or have anything to do with any of the claims you've made."
            Rondy: "Yes it does. You guys suck at debating. I win."

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            Dude, this guy flounced days ago. At this point, you're basically arguing with a corpse.

            … meaning the debate is just as productive as when he was actively contributing to it.

          • Yeah, I finally got to the part where he flounced. Oh well.

            I took my kids to visit their grandparents last week and didn't get a chance to chime in while the discussion was actually going on.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            To be fair he unflounced within an hour or two of that and then played proxy ping pong against Doc's banning him for a while. So its safe to assume he's still reading.

          • "Is that wrong?"

            Yep. See, this isn't a case of "everyone's opinion is valid." One side of this argument is right, and the other is wrong. And frankly, everything you've said has convinced me that that person is you.

          • deezers says:

            Delurking. Because WHAT DAFUQ???

            No, you do NOT have a good sex life, if you have had sex with a string of women who didn't really want to do it in the first place and got upset afterwards. That is NOT a good sex life.

            Have you considered that these women are acquiescing because they feel afraid or threatened? Because I can think of few other reasons that they would consent to sex that they didn't want to have. And by the way, your logic is so goddam skeewiff that it is baffling.

            Women are conditioned to not be sexually explicit therefore when they say they want sex they might not mean it? Surely if we were so conditioned to not be sexual, then if we said we wanted sex we would have to REALLY mean it? Although your conditioning 'theory' is absolute fraff. Take that from a women raised in Catholic Ireland and taught that sex is basically the worst thing you can engage in. If I want sex with you, you will know all about it.

          • Deezer – "Have you considered that these women are acquiescing because they feel afraid or threatened? Because I can think of few other reasons that they would consent to sex that they didn't want to have. "

            You mean like he's their boss and they're afraid to decline sex when he asks?

            Or all these women were married to him at different points in time, and they felt an implicit threat that he might end the relationship if they didn't have sex with him?

            Besides that, I can think of no reason why so many women would feel afraid to say no to a man they are not in a relationship with, are just seeing casually, and are not dependent upon for anything.

            Why don't you explain what could be those reasons?

          • Now now, we just got rid of one willfully obtuse guy.

          • We don't know what his size or physical ability is, but if he is bigger than the woman, then yes, that is a threat.

            If he has more power than the woman in their shared social circles, that is a threat.

            If he consistently goes for women who are easily overridden (since he has so much trouble interacting with or even understanding anyone who doesn't agree with him) then he is a threat to them.

            I'm guessing here that the women he goes for are selected to be not especially independent, or at least independent from him.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            How about this one:He's used his online dating profile to qualify in women who are willing to be insulted "as a joke" and manipulated into showing up. He's already established by his conversation style that that people who don't agree with him are outright ignored. He drove, they go back to his place "for a drink" or whatever. He makes it clear he wants sex and that he's given them several chances to back out of it already because he's such a great guy. He explains that if she didn't want sex, she would have left earlier, so she must just be shy or socially conditioned not to be enthusiastic. . .or was she leading him on? He's between the woman and the door. She consents despite a case of the screaming heebie jeebies and from now on every time he asks whether she's comfortable or likes something, she fucking says yes. When its over and she can get the hell out, THEN she explains that she either didn't want to have sex in the first place or lost interest part way through. If his approach "works" (produces the desired result), he's already dating people who think its something wrong with them.

            That one matches up nicely with what we have to go on.

          • "I wonder if you live in a particularly conservative part of the world then, because it seems incredibly unusual to me"

            Heck, I live in a somewhat conservative part of the country, in a very conservative subculture, and that sounds really off to me, too.

          • Women rarely decline sex when I ask since I tend to have given them several opportunities to call it a night prior to that, which I guess makes it unlikely for someone who doesn't want sex to even have gotten to the point where you'd be asking them for it.

            Or maybe they don't feel comfortable saying no.

          • Yes, and that's why you try to make sure that this isn't the case.

          • or maybe they just find him attractive ?
            I mean the odds of that possibility are really really low but still gotta consider that.

          • Why is everyone getting so defensive and uncomfortable when rondy says Women rarely decline sex when I ask

            Its one thing to disagree with him and say this isn't the norm.
            Its totally another to insist that there must be something seriously wrong in his situation.

          • For the record, as I've said before, I go to great lengths to make sure that a woman who would be likely to say no to sex gets a chance to back out before we even get to that point. I also make sure not to ask if I can tell that the woman would be likely to say no, or become uncomfortable by me asking.

            However, the reading comprehension seems to be very low on this site.

          • eselle28 says:

            So you've stopped behaving in the ways that you describe here?

            I don't really feel any enthusiasm besides their following my lead, so I always end up pushing the question until either of us get annoyed, or we end up having sex which is usually good or great, but sometimes end with her telling me that she didn't really want to do it or that she lost interest halfway through without telling me, but still wanted to do it "just because".

            It's not all too uncommon for women to pretend to be interested even if something happens before or during the act that kills their buzz, like suddenly becoming self-aware, feeling fat or being reminded of something negative, and even if you can somewhat feel that the atmosphere has changed, it's not noticeable enough to justify ending the intercourse, especially when you're being convinced that nothing is wrong.

            Instead, they'll let you know afterwards what they were thinking during the act, and the feeling of having slept with someone you later learn didn't really want to is FREAKING HORRIBLE, even if it's not that big of a deal to them.

          • This argument has been a misunderstanding in regards to the definition of enthusiasm, and that's why you're reading my comment the way you do.

            I've addressed this in my response to Mel in the thread about social conditioning, so if you want to continue the discussion, feel free to do so there.

          • eselle28 says:

            I didn't think it was addressed, nor do I think your comments to her were consistent with those you made Friday or most of yesterday. If you'd like to address my comment, you can.

          • Again, it's addressed in Mel's thread. I'm debating this from a different perspective than you are, so whatever claims I make are going to be misconstrued by you. You're talking Sex 101, I'm talking Sex 501. When I say "women don't give clear consent" it's going to mean different things depending on where you're coming from.

            So please, for the love of god, just head over to Mel's thread and stop badgering me about my sex life.

          • eselle28 says:

            I'm going to say it again: I found your comments to Mel to both be insufficient and to be very contradictory with other comments you've made – not just the ones about your personal life, but your arguments. If you want to discuss those points with me, I'd like you to rephrase them rather than continually pointing me over to your inadequate argument.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            You brought your personal sex life into this in terms of enthusiasm of partners, number of partners and your personal style of securing consent. Its part of your evidence supporting your claims about how consent works. I'm afraid its on the table for discussion.

          • Judging by the fact that you've never had good sex, I don't think you ever passed Sex 101.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Our reading comprehension isn't low, your credibility is.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Because the way he describes his conversational style is completely at odds with his demonstrated conversational style. Take his tendency to repeat, browbeat, minimize and make sudden topic changes while claiming to be rational and open minded and combine that with his assurances that his partners are not enthusiastic and it doesn't paint a pretty picture.

            Its not "women rarely decline when I ask" that's an issue so much as "I've had over 20 partners who never expressed enthusiasm for sex with me, so its a problem with women as a whole".

          • Again, our definitions of "consent" and "enthusiasm" have been different throughout this discussion. If you want me to elaborate on that, head over to Mel's thread where this has already been explained.

          • That, right there, was an example of repeating, browbeating, minimizing, and making sudden topic changes. And you wonder why we don't take you seriously.

          • eselle28 says:

            Because he's also said that they never directly initiate, that he's had at least a few encounters where his partner only followed his lead but then explained she didn't want to have sex afterwards, and that he's had roughly 20 different partners.

            If he'd only had a couple, I could write it off as an aberration, or if he said that his partner never turned him down but also liked to initiate sex, I'd assume he was dating women who typically had high sex drives. This combination of passivity both when it comes to initiating sex and turning it down and sometimes having sex that his partner ended up not wanting is a problem.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      From where do you get the idea that a woman will reply to "Want to have sex?" with explicit or implicit consent? Because that just doesn't happen, and that's also why you have to ask women to really clarify what they want, to the point where they sometimes get pissed (i.e. annoyed) with you.

      I get the idea that women reply to "want to have sex" or versions of it that better fit the situation with explicit or implicit consent because I get that consent before I have sex with them. One of the reason people are speculating on your actions is because the converse of this is not getting explicit or implicit consent.

      And despite that, they can still do things like lose interest halfway through and not tell you about it until afterwards, which pretty much makes you feel like a rapist, despite your best efforts to make her feel comfortable and offer her an opportunity to back out at any point.

      I'm not even sure what we're discussing here so I'll take my idea of what it means. First, if you're paying attention to your partner (see "empathy), its usually not that difficult to tell if she suddenly loses interest, even if she doesn't say so. The statment seems to imply that you do not notice, which again raises a red flag to what you're doing as opposed to what you think you're doing. . . which in turn feeds back to why you don't get enthusiastic consent.

      In my experience, women just aren't very good at communicating in bed, and that's the problem I'm trying to point out.

      You are welcome to your experience. The experience of several other people here is directly contrary to yours. The possibilities are that either you are dating women who are socialized quite differently from the ones we date (or are) or that your behavior discourages enthusiastic participation by your partners. At this point in the restarted rational discussion, the evidence you have presented seems to point more to the former.

      OK, that's it for now but if I get a second wind, I'll continue addressing your main points until I hit a spot on the thread where it starts to repeat.

    • "From where do you get the idea that a woman will reply to 'Want to have sex?' with explicit or implicit consent?"

      From all the times I've asked that question and gotten either explicit or implicit consent? Not to suggest I haven't also gotten answers like "not now", "not tonight", etc. I find this idea that women aren't capable/willing to answer a question like that with a real answer confusing. It makes me suspicious that the problem lies in the person asking the question, and the way they go about asking it, rather than with the women who refuse to answer the question. It seems most likely that a refusal to give a straight answer is fueled by logic along the lines of "God no I don't want to have sex, but if I say no he's going to whine, and complain, and try and guilt trip me into it…"

      Just my two cents way after the discussion has died off.

  28. Sorry, no. The women I am with are full-grown adults, not addle-brained children I've "tricked" into sleeping with me (This kind of thinking is classic beta pedestalization.) . As such, they are fully capable of telling me if they don't like something, and I, them.

    It's not my job to try and read girls' minds.

    • But the women having sex with you should get more out of it than not absolutely abhorring it and yelling for you to stop because you did something they dislike. For fuck's sake (literally), the sex you're having just sounds like bad sex if that's all you're going for. Poor women.

      • Consent is more important than pleasure or sexiness, obviously, but reading Vic's comment was painful. Sex should not just be about doing enough to not piss off your partner.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      They're also capable of telling you if they do like something. If they can't do one, they can't do the other.

    • If your focus is all on doing whatever you want unless your partner says no, not on seeing what they'll react enthusiastically to, then your partners may be full-grown adults, but I doubt they enjoyed sleeping with you very much. A good sexual partner *wants* to see that the other person is enthusiastically engaged–because it shows s/he's doing things well and sharing the pleasure–not to simply avoid the other person backing out.

    • Gentleman Horndog says:

      "This kind of thinking is classic beta pedestalization."

      So, restricting my sex life to women who want nothing more in that moment than to fuck like bunnies … enjoying the wicked gleam she gets in her eye when I ask her if she wants to fuck … cherishing that squeal of delight she makes when I shove her onto the bed … loving it when she grabs my ass, or bites my lip, or does something else that lets me know she's ready to go NOW … that's "beta pedestalization?"

      Damn, son. This "beta" thing sounds great! Sign me up!

    • haha admit it you've never met a woman

  29. eselle28 says:

    Oh, look, the gang's all here.

    • fakely mctest says:

      The sound I made was…not attractive.

      Good show. c:

      • Robjection says:

        Damn it! Part of me is wondering just what sound that was, and the other part of me is telling me to drop it and it's reminding me of what happened when I googled Lutefisk in response to a comment in another thread.

    • BritterSweet says:

      Ah. I thought we were missing someone.

  30. Robjection says:

    Just because women are socially conditioned to be passive doesn't mean all women will be passive.

    • Or that women are socially conditioned to be totally passive rather than just a little more passive than men.

  31. Gentleman Johnny says:

    *eyeroll*

  32. Gentleman Johnny says:

    If I had the time I would totally start a "betas get the best sex" dating system.

  33. 1000Lives says:

    Is this article a description of the kind of consent necessary for something not to be rape, or is it describing the higher standard of 'consent level necessary for the sex to be really good'? Because if it's the former, then by those criteria I am both a rapist and the victim of rape. For the record, I believe neither of these things to be true.

    Let me describe the first time with my most recent partner. It was our second date, and we hung out at a bar for a while. I lived nearby, and I invited her to my place, which she accepted. We hung out and watched some House of Cards and chatted, while drinking wine. After a couple drinks, we kissed, at which point she backed off a bit. I immediately sensed her reluctance, and backed off myself.

    At this point, she went for more wine. I took this opportunity to tell specifically tell her that no matter what, I expected nothing from her – if she needed to crash on a couch, or needed a couple hours to sober up, or needed me to drive her home, it was all ok in my book. She understood and thanked me.

    After about another hour and yet another glass of wine (we were both about three in at this point), she started to initiate physically. The only thing she said to me at this point was, "please don't use me." I told her I wouldn't, and that was it. That was the last thing that was verbalized before we were fully engaged.

    Now, I look back on this and I see it as consent. Body language, assertiveness, and my explicit statement that she had escape routes if she needed them – all of these contribute to my belief that I engaged in consensual sex that night. But if we follow the enthusiastic yes standard, it falls short. So again, is this a standard for 'not-rape' or is it a standard for optimal sex enjoyment?

    (For the record, when I say that I am a 'victim of rape' by the Doc's criteria, I'm not referring to this example. There have been other situations, however, when I have not 'enthusiastically' consented, but had sex despite this.)

    • thebutterfly says:

      Why is this ethically dodgy in the slightest? She was clearly not only consenting, but also apparently enthusiastic given that she initiated. Are you saying that the actual sex itself was a bit meh? Well whatever, you don't always knock it out of the park every time. And 3 glasses of wine are unlikely to have seriously impaired her mental faculties, or yours.

      • 1000Lives says:

        I actually *don't* think it's ethically dodgy, but I also can't call it 'enthusiastic consent'. There WAS reluctance involved, and a significant amount of alcohol. What I'm saying is, if we're going to put rules down saying that X is rape and Y is not, we need to make sure that those rules make sense. The article talks about people 'rules-lawyering' rape, but I think the reason this happens is because sex gets very complicated very quickly, and simple rules like "No means no" or "Enthusiastic yes only" don't always fit.

        Two people could look at my situation and come away with two different interpretations. You say that she provided enthusiastic consent, but another might see the fact that no one ever said "I want to have sex", and that there was a lot of alcohol involved, and would say that consent was never given. Now, if "enthusiastic yes" is meant to be something you should aim for in order to have a genuinely good experience, that's fine. But if it's the base requirement for a sexual encounter to not be rape, then I think it's overly simplistic.

        • It's really not that complicated. You don't have analyze her every inflection and body movement for signs of possible reluctance. Just be aware that this is a thing when initiating sexytimes.

        • I'm not sure how you could interpret the article as saying that if you don't have enthusiastic consent, it's definitely rape. It seems pretty clear to me that the message is, if you don't get enthusiastic consent, it *could* be rape, so it's better to just get enthusiastic consent at a minimum so you can be 100% sure it's not and don't risk having an unwilling partner.

          I think in your situation, you did take a little risk that she might have not been entirely happy that sex had happened after the fact (only because she had initially hesitated and only got physical again after drinking more), but that doesn't make it rape and I don't think it would meet any legal definition, unless she was so intoxicated she was slurring her words etc. The fact that you'd been drinking just as much would mitigate things too. And thankfully she was totally okay with it afterward, so no issue.

          • 1000Lives says:

            Seen in that context, I guess that makes sense. Ambiguous situations can be seen as a sort of 'yellow zone' where a lack of communication could lead to situations that are legally and ethically suspect. And yes, later encounters were more forthright, so there is a sort of post-hoc confirmation of consent here, too. I just wish that in situations like these, the signs would be clearer. I guess it's on me to avoid sex in situations when the signals *aren't* clear, even if that means sacrificing opportunities to have what would probably be consensual sex.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I guess it's on me to avoid sex in situations when the signals *aren't* clear, even if that means sacrificing opportunities to have what would probably be consensual sex.

            Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!

            Err on the side of not raping.

          • Nice conclusion – yep, you may lose out on a sex or two, but nobody gets raped. It's a decent trade-off, unless you don't give a shit about other people.

            Thankfully, you do!

          • "I guess it's on me to avoid sex in situations when the signals *aren't* clear, even if that means sacrificing opportunities to have what would probably be consensual sex."

            Ding ding ding!

      • "And 3 glasses of wine are unlikely to have seriously impaired her mental faculties, or yours."

        According to the article, "too drunk to drive is too drunk to consent". According to wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_alcohol_content), at 0.08 % BAC you are too drunk to drive in the US, and 3 standard drinks of wine (which seems like a rather small serving size to me, but I'm not a big wine drinker) will result in a BAC of 0.11% for a woman weighing 120 pounds, dropping about 0.01 every 40 minutes. So it seems to be right on the edge according to the rules in the post. (Of course it's less problematic if she weighs more or more time has passed, and more if the servings of wine were larger or if she already consumed alcohol at the bar).

        • eselle28 says:

          I think people are getting a little technical with this, maybe because we're mostly geeks and this is what geeks do. But I don't think the standard is meant to be compared against your own jurisdiction's drunk driving laws and carefully adjusted against the person's body weight. Look, this rule doesn't technically work for me either, because I'm a shitty driver and don't like to drive if I've had even one drink. But it can work in a more generalized sense.

          People have a less technical way of assessing whether someone is drunk – slurred words, lack of coordination, confusion, talking too loud or too fast or too much after previously having been socially appropriate. It's a gradual process, but I also think most people are able to recognize a point where they wouldn't trust the other person's judgments anymore. That's the point where you stop – or before then, if you want to be careful about things.

        • thebutterfly says:

          What eselle said.

          "Too drunk to drive is too drunk to consent" is a ridiculous standard because of the very low quantities beyond which you should not drive, which are highly unlikely to make an ordinary person "drunk", as the term is commonly understood.

          Physical coordination and fast motor reflexes are affected long before conscious mental processes are in any serious way.

  34. So here's one issue I noticed while reading the article: there really are no varying degrees of rape (at least, not when you're talking about it. I don't know the legal definitions). Either you are having consenting sex, or you are raping your partner, you are a rapist, and you should burn at the stake. While that Girls scene sounds awful, is the guy really raping the girl? Getting a half-hearted "okay" from a drunk girl is bad, but does having sex with her make you a capital-R Rapist? (Honest questions, I don't know the answers)

    This is problem when discussing this issue, because calling some a rapist is really one of the worst thing you could call someone, up there with "murderer" and "Hitler." It's an incredibly loaded term, and I think it makes people shut down and become defensive instead of really thinking about what they or their friends are doing. Maybe it would be more helpful to call the Girls guy is a third-degree rapist, while the classic "predator in a dark alley" is a first degree rapist?

    • Fuck no. Almost no rapists are predators in dark alleys. We really need to get away from that idea. Over 70% of victims know their rapists.

      Right now, society will do anything do avoid calling people rapists or sex offenders. Rapists will do anything to avoid calling themselves that; we're already at the point where they will fully admit that they will try to force sex on women so long as the act isn't called rape. We've already played the "it isn't REALLY rape" game. We don't need to play it anymore.

      • You're probably right. Still, unfortunately once you start calling people rapists (even legitimately!), it's a lot like calling people Nazis. The conversation is usually downhill from there.

        Maybe the goal is to starting equating this behavior with being rapist, and everything that entails? That's really the biggest issue, that a lot of people don't think of this behavior as rape. Example A: The Steubenville case

        • "Still, unfortunately once you start calling people rapists (even legitimately!), it's a lot like calling people Nazis. The conversation is usually downhill from there."

          Could I ask you to consider for a few minutes what point of view on the encounter you're taking if that's the part of the narrative where you think things take a downhill turn?

          I mean this in all seriousness. If the point at which someone is CALLED a rapist is the point where things seem to you to start getting bad, you're missing out on the experience of the person who claims to have been raped.

          That may be the point where they start to reach out for support, or to heal. That may be the point where they put a name to what happened to them and, naming it, start to feel it can someday be dealt with. That may be the point where things get worse, as they're shamed for pointing the finger at someone too popular or victim-blamed for their own history or held up to all sorts of public scrutiny or speculation.

          But almost never is everything hunky-dory after a rape and only start to get a little grim once the perpetrator has been accused.
          ___________________________
          "The delta was muddy and full of cobras but the group stuck it out until the Earl fell ill with bronchitis…" — The Countess of Carnarvon

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          By the way, I also think its reasonable to call someone a Nazi if they want to exterminate Jews and are members of the National Socialist German Workers' Party.

          • Ok this is my new favorite comment.

          • Don't forget homosexuals, people with disabilities, and the Roma and Sinti!

            Though funnily enough, I am way more likely to meet a rapist than I am a Nazi right now, so it seems like Max might be, I don't know, derailing? But that's a ridiculous idea. No one has ever derailed discussions about rape before by saying accusing someone of rape is as bad as accusing of them of being a Nazi. Never. That would be RIDICULOUS.

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            You know how a whole bunch of white people totally lose their shit when called out on doing/saying something racists? So many that a distressingly non-trivial percentage of the population honestly thinks that accusing somebody of racism is just as bad as, if not worse than, actual racism?

            Do you think that just happened on its own?

            If somebody doesn't get to work establishing that calling somebody a rapist is just as bad as actually raping somebody, those asshole feminists and their pussy beta boy buddies are going to hang that word on any bro who bangs a chick too drunk to say no! I mean, shit, it's not RAPE, it's just fucking a babe who didn't consent to it! How else are you supposed to nail some of these stuck-up bitches, man? Does that sound like a world YOU want to live in? Fuck that! High-five, bro!

            (Still reading, Max? Okay, sorry, I know you're not this big of a jagoff. But, dude. You seem not to know some pretty basic stuff about how prevalent rape is in this society. Yes, there is room for discussion about the gray area where consent is iffy, or about acts that are morally rape but are not criminally prosecutable. Fretting over the hurt fee-fees of rapists and Godwining your own post are not productive ways to start that discussion.)

          • I'm not saying that we need to worry about the feelings of rapists. I'm just wondering if there's a more productive way to have this discussion, one that results in more people being like "hey, I should be doing this!" and less like "IM NOT A RAPIST SHUT UP [leaves]." Maybe there isn't, I don't know. (Maybe it wasn't obvious, but I'm not trying to bulldoze everyone with my opinions, I 'm just trying to have a discussion about this. Ideally, maybe we all learn something?)

            At the same time, maybe it is more productive to say "this is totally 100% rape, dude." Maybe it's better to discourage this behavior in the future this way. Still, what do you do about guys and girls who do this stuff, but refuse to admit to themselves that it's rape.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Write articles like this one and make sure any women (or guys) who may be targeted are aware beforehand.

          • I think possibly people are reacting this way to your comments because you seem to be criticizing something that's not even in the article or the comments here. The word "rapist" only appears in the article once. In my reading, the article isn't saying, "If you don't get enthusiastic consent, you're a rapist" it's saying, "If you make sure you get enthusiastic consent, you can be 100% sure you're *not* committing rape". Given that most people do care very much about not being a rapist, but aren't entirely clear on where the boundaries are drawn, it seems to me this is pretty useful advice, not something that should be making people defensive.

            If someone gets defensive about an article saying in a perfectly reasonable way, "Hey, here's a way you can be totally sure you don't hurt someone", then the problem is that person getting defensive, not the message.

    • But if one has sex with someone and consent wasn't given, that's rape. There isn't any such thing as degrees of rape. Remember also that consent must be maintained and can be retroactively revoked. Long and the short of it: if there's no consent, it's rape.

      • But, what if consent is given, but it isn't enthusiastic? Like in the Girls scene? Is that still 100% Rape, or is it something else that's still awful but less awful?

        (Honest questions, by the way. I'm not trying to prove anything.)

        • I don't watch Girls so I can't speak to that for sure, but I'd say it depends on the details. I've heard that the character apparently said a clear "no" at one point, and the guy kept going (the "no" was around not having washed and he claimed it didn't matter, but combined with her body language it sounds like he should have taken that as a cue to confirm she was still into the act in general), and I think she'd have a case for saying it was rape if that's true. I've also heard differing things about what the two of them had discussed re: sex earlier, and if she'd said earlier that she specifically liked the sort of sex they had the first time, and now he's introducing a much more aggressive and unemotional type of sex–that on top of the body language and the "no" would make it even more over the line.

          In general, I think if consent is given without any coercion or pressuring (e.g., it wasn't precluded by a "no" or negative body language that the other person did things to overcome, but offered the first time sex was suggested) and the person is not impaired in any way (alcohol, drugs, medication) or under any general threat (e.g., abusive situation where the other person has hit them in the past for expression disagreement), and they don't protest, actively try to stop the act, or show active signs of discomfort (crying, cringing) at any point during it, then it shouldn't count legally count as rape even if the person did not really want to have sex and seems passively disinterested. I think that would count as bad sex, and a sign that there are problems with the relationship, but I don't think it should be prosecutable. What I think should count as rape is a little harder to define absolutely, because it depends a lot on the details… E.g., there's a big difference between your partner starting to cringe and cry continuously partway through sex, and seeing one cringe preceded and followed by apparent enthusiasm.

          Make sense?

          • I haven't seen the scene either (I was going by the description in the article), but yes that does make sense, and I would agree.

        • eselle28 says:

          I like this line from the article: "You can what-if and “is it rape if” until the cows come home. When you switch to the idea of affirmative or enthusiastic consent – focusing on getting an unambiguous “YES” instead of stopping at “no” – it changes the equation entirely."

          There are endless discussions about what the point of consent is under the law, but really, I think that we should place the focus on getting people to do a little more than the bare minimum required to avoid arrest.

        • Artimaeus says:

          This is a question that I myself have been having in these discussions, because it seems to me that we lump a lot of different actions together under the term rape. Compare, for example, the girls scene with the scene from Cape Fear where Cady rapes and brutalizes Illiana Douglas (I found an excellent commentary on that scene here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVhzReYZras ). Both of these scenes could be said to depict "rape", but we get the sense that Cady is far more evil, far more morally degenerate than Lena Dunham's boyfriend, and it feels wrong to say they are guilty of the same crime. Ironically, in Cape Fear the woman is unable to press charges because she was drunk when Cady picked and was at least initially going along with it.

          I think the problem is that in generally we associate the word "rape" with people like Cady, who are incredibly rare, instead of people like Adam or the Stubenville kids, who are distressingly common. We are hesitant to actually call somebody a rapist because it implies a Robert DeNero level of evil and malice, which most rapists simply don't have.

          • Which is why we need more awareness that most rape isn't like that.

            I mean, someone who goes around kills strangers and mutilating their bodies seems far more evil and morally degenerate than someone who kills just one person, with out any additional violence, who he found out was sleeping with his wife, right? But we still call both of those things "murder". People are capable of understanding that a label can encompass a wide range of possibilities. We just need to teach them to do so with "rape".

          • Artimaeus says:

            Perhaps it would be better to say that Cady is guilty of two crimes, rape and assault, which need not necessarily occur together. There already exists a legal distinction between forcible and statutory rape, but that's been demonstrably problematic, what with politicians' tendency to replace the word "forcible" with "legitimate".

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I am totally stealing the phrase "Robert DeNero level of malice."

            More seriously, though, I think it may be a question of how distant we are (or think we are) from the crime. For example, we all know someone who's stolen office supplies. We don't demand that they get a different term than people who steal a truck full of gold but we're capable of discussing the difference because its a level of behavior we can understand. We don't even have a term for people who have an assault conviction for shoving someone in a crowded bar while drunk (except maybe "stupid"). We can relate to it, so we don't lump it in with the guy who beat someone down for their gold ring.

            We don't really know anyone who's killed someone outside of war, so we tend to think of it as an impossibly inhuman crime. Anyone who killed someone else (not in the line of duty, not in self defense etc etc) is a murderer or an assassin rather than a human being. if I say "murderer", you're a lot more likely to think Hannibal Lechter then you are some guy who drove when he was too tired, drifted out of his lane and wiped out a family sedan.

            We like to think we don't know anyone who's committed rape, so we tend to blow it up like murder into something that only psychotic boogeymen do. Unfortunately, the truth is that we all probably know several people who have used force, coercion or intoxication to get what they want. Maybe its time we start recognizing that, regardless of what term we use. Maybe those guys do deserve to be publicly shamed with the "rapist" label until people realize that its a lot more common than we like to acknowledge.

          • Artimaeus says:

            Agreed, and I think that we should take it further and alter the way our criminal justice system deals with sex crimes. For example, even if the Stubenville rapists had gotten off scott free for raping their classmate, I doubt they would pose a threat children. And yet, in most states, registered sex offenders are not allowed to live within a certain distance from an elementary schools, and are subject to a lot of other restrictions that are probably irrational. At some level, the way we punish rapists affects the way we perceive rape, and I think that the extreme stigma that we attach to sex offenders is inappropriate for such a common crime, and makes it more difficult for us to protect victims.

          • Gentleman Johnny says: