SL 704

Yes, yes, I know you are are due for a proper blog post, but you’ll get a link-fest blog post and you’ll like it. Because I have edits to get to this morning.

Millennials aren’t shopping in supermarkets anymore. They are getting their avocado toast in restaurants, thank you very much.

Stop and stare at the crazy people who voted for Trump and are still happy about it. Lots of snark on twitter today about the Times’s decisions to feature these halfwits on its op-ed page.

Developers have hearts of dog poop. Evidence.

Megan McArdle, friend of Apt. 11D, weighs in on the #MeToo movement.

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131 thoughts on “SL 704

  1. I love Megan McArdle dearly, but I do have to point out that as a 6’3″ woman (or thereabouts), she probably has a lot more confidence in her physical safety than women a foot or more shorter do.

    1. You are correct AmyP. Having volunteered with organizations that support women who have been harassed and assaulted, smaller women are one of the more targeted groups.

    2. I was going to say I’ve never felt physically threatened (though I am small), but then I realized that I’d completely dismissed the times I’d been assaulted (physically or verbally) in the street. It would be interested to know whether larger women are less likely to be grabbed, taunted, . . . .

  2. We used Instacart last week — grocery shopping based on the Uber model. We put together a list online at a local grocery store, and an actual person (ours was Troy) goes to the store and picks up the items, while maintaining contact with you through instacart if items are missing or can’t be found. I’m usually pretty comfortable paying people to do things I don’t want to do, but I felt surprisingly ambivalent about Troy doing our shopping. We discussed worker exploitation at home, with one person making the standard free market argument that if Troy was willing to take our task, it must mean that he was getting paid enough. But, I’m not so confident. The model might rely on ever new entrants to the field, which is a model that I think the internet particularly enables.

    (We eat out a lot, and, are finding more and more reason to avoid food prep in our home).

  3. “My generation of women was not exactly unfamiliar with casual sex, or aggressive come-ons. But we didn’t feel so traumatized by them or so outraged. If we went to a man’s apartment, we might be annoyed that he wouldn’t stop asking, but we weren’t offended, nor did we feel it was impossible for us to refuse, or leave.

    But then, I came of age in the liminal moment after AIDS complicated the sexual revolution, and before the internet turbocharged it. In part because casual sex was so risky, there was still a robust dating culture, which gave women alternatives to the nightly chase. Most of us chose those alternatives, which in turn limited the ability of heterosexual men to choose the nightly chase over dating.”

    This paragraph from MM felt to me a reasonable expression of my world (we are about the same age) — I think, though, that we weren’t outraged at the time because we accepted things we shouldn’t have (bra snapping in MS, technicians who demanded flirtation to do their jobs, the weight of saying no over and over again, plans to avoid particularly persistent pursuers, . . . .).

    But, I think she’s hit on something with the cultural shift of expectations about sex with women (fueled by the internet, porn, and availability, control of AIDS, acceptance of condoms). Women are trying to preserve their social lives and social status in a world where their power to preserve those things while saying no to sex is diminished by changing cultural norms. Is anonymous public descriptions of unpleasant sexual experiences with a named individual a tool they can use to claim that power? Maybe. Is it the tool I would choose or recommend — no. I think that the way I’d want to fight the battle is to convince more women to choose to say no when they want, even at a social price, in the hopes of creating a new culture with more possibilities. But, I don’t know which will be more effective.

  4. This quote from Rachel Simmons struck me

    “Girls learn a script of silence that many take with them well into adulthood. If women fear that speaking up may cost them their job, girls know resistance will cost them their social status. Let your voice rise above a coquettish scolding, and you quickly become known as the bitch who can’t take a joke.”

    I want to make more women comfortable with being the “bitch who can’t take a joke.” But will that stop the caddish behavior effectively?

    In MS, we can bring authorities into the picture and try to create a culture where the harassing behavior is unacceptable. We can try to do that in college, and maybe even in the workplace. But, encounters with people at parties? I don’t see any way to appeal to authority. So one choice is to support more women in saying no, and accepting the social consequences. Another to is to publicly shame the men.

    “https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/sexual-harassment-in-schools_us_5a32b145e4b00dbbcb5bb530?ncid=engmodushpmg00000003”

  5. The comment from Megan McArdle that made sense to me (as I would restate it) is that young women today have been taught neither a Christian sexual morality, nor what one might call an Enlightenment sexual morality (i.e., the code of a gentleman or a lade). The only sexual morality they have been taught is the morality of consent (and its violations, rape and sexual assault), which forces them to shoehorn any unpleasant sexual encounter into that framework, even when it doesn’t fit very well. (I mean, regardless of whether you find fingers in the mouth erotic–I recall an article in which Cynthia Heimel expressed her enjoyment of this technique–Ansari didn’t force “Grace” to take off her clothes or open her mouth, did he?)

    An earlier generation would have called Ansari either a sinner or a bounder (and, in both cases, condemned “Grace” as well.) But it’s absurd to call him a rapist.

    1. y81 said,

      “The comment from Megan McArdle that made sense to me (as I would restate it) is that young women today have been taught neither a Christian sexual morality, nor what one might call an Enlightenment sexual morality (i.e., the code of a gentleman or a lade).”

      I agree, but I think it’s not that hard to apply standard rules of politeness (which a lot of people have not been taught, either) to dating and sex.

      Let’s imagine you have a guest and you offer the guest wine or some food delicacy and the guest says no. It’s just not polite to keep offering and offering the same thing, even if it’s really good stuff and you know they’d love it if they just gave it a try. Or let’s say you have a fun outing idea and the person you want to take on your fun outing doesn’t seem in a big hurry to make arrangements with you and is making unenthusiastic noises and trying to change the subject. Maybe find somebody else to take on your fun outing who would appreciate it?

      With regard to Christian sexual morality, I’d be annoyed if my husband stuffed his fingers in my mouth without asking, and I’ve given the guy several children in Holy Matrimony.

      1. Politeness is good! You can go a long way on simple politeness! Neither Ansari nor the young woman seemed very polite, in their encounter, I would not like to see one of my children taking either role in that story.

  6. I have to confess to really liking the newer generation of feminist thought on consent and enthusiastic consent and respect for personal boundaries. It’s something that really clicks for me in a way that I never really warmed up to the feminism of my generation or the generation before. For examples of how this can work in real life without being a big weirdo, see Captain Awkward.

    https://captainawkward.com/2017/10/26/1041-how-do-i-get-my-much-older-work-friend-to-stop-messaging-me-late-at-night-to-talk-about-his-relationship-problems/

    https://captainawkward.com/2017/08/14/1009-persistence-is-grossly-overrated-in-dating-and-romance/

    No doubt there are social morons out there screwing this up, but there really are smart people with good ideas out there that can be adapted (with very little effort) for use by more conservative people like myself.

    And (as you can see from Captain Awkward’s archives), this isn’t just about sex or dating–it has an application to all facets of life.

    1. I also find the ideas around “enthusiastic consent” meaningful (though potentially for different reasons). The concept seems to balance both the concept of consent (that is, the couple gets to decide what they want to do without limits established by those outside the relationship) while still giving (both) partners the choice to signal limits.

      There are some traditions that I believe were based on the norms that forbade women from giving consent that seem to have persisted today — examples including stalking, excessive persistence, and physical coercion. In a social norm where giving consent was considered unacceptable behavior (making the woman a slut/whore/adulterer), men might have been socially trained in persistence (and we have lots of cultural examples).

      1. bj said,

        “I also find the ideas around “enthusiastic consent” meaningful (though potentially for different reasons).”

        Back when I was in college in the early/mid-90s, “no means no” was the thing.

        I’ve belatedly realized that “no means no” isn’t really adequate, and that enthusiastic consent is better because it covers cases where one party is unable to say no or is being bullied into something.

      2. I don’t understand “enthusiastic consent.” Most of the things I do, I’m not that enthusiastic about. (Really, I just want to have a glass of Chardonnay and read my book.) How can you know if the other person is enthusiastic, as opposed to merely willing? I’ve had sex lots of times when I wasn’t enthusiastic about it, but so what? I guess if any of the women involved were famous, I could get them fired, but that seems kind of despicable behavior to me.

        I take it this concept only applies to sex, which I think is funny. We have come a long from the mid-century progressive theory that sex is just a normal human activity like any other, and if we just get rid of the Victorian (or Puritan, or Christian, or medieval, or whatever) mumbo-jumbo, we will all be much happier.

      3. Huh. Is your sense of the manners there symmetrical: it’s rude of anyone to turn down an invitation for sex — or gendered: women may politely turn down men for sex but not vice versa? Because both of those seem off to me. But living by your own sense of what manners require is certainly harmless in this case, so not my problem.

    2. I’ve had sex lots of times when I wasn’t enthusiastic about it,

      I’m asking for understanding rather to judge you, but why were you doing that? The obvious good reasons that come to mind for consenting to sex when you didn’t really want to be having sex are kind of special cases: intentionally trying to bring a pregnancy about; you’re a sex worker someplace where it’s legal and you’re getting paid; you’re in a relationship where the other person’s emotional state is important to you and they want to have sex while you don’t mind.

      I’m having a hard time thinking of a plausible reason to have grudging, undesired but fully consented to sex with a casual hookup. Which doesn’t mean it never happens, but does, I think mean that lack of enthusiasm under those circumstances should be a red enough flag that you really need to check in as to whether there’s some miscommunication about consent.

      1. If you’re with a girl and she wants to have sex, it would be very rude to decline. Being married and being a believer would be acceptable reasons, but I didn’t have those reasons when I was in my 20s.

        Really, it’s rude to decline any invitation, absent illness, prior engagement, or a few other things that don’t come immediately. (Subsequent invitation from the White House, I guess, but I’ve never gotten one of those.)

      2. Did you spend all of the 90s on the phone after being asked “Would you like to discuss your long-distance provider?”?

      3. Y81 — it is not rude to decline sex with a woman. It is not rude to decline sex with a man.

        It is not rude to decline an invitation to a dance — we recently my had to send out a message in my kids school reminding the children, especially the boys, that they were not required to consent.

      4. y81 said,

        “If you’re with a girl and she wants to have sex, it would be very rude to decline. Being married and being a believer would be acceptable reasons, but I didn’t have those reasons when I was in my 20s.”

        “Really, it’s rude to decline any invitation, absent illness, prior engagement, or a few other things that don’t come immediately.”

        Oh man. Your body is not a public utility.

        MH said,

        “Did you spend all of the 90s on the phone after being asked “Would you like to discuss your long-distance provider?”?”

        Funny!

      5. I really don’t know where other people get their rules. They are surely not from Scripture (which has a rather different set of rules). Did we agree to these rules behind the veil of ignorance? I don’t remember that. The way it seems to me is, other people just make up rules, and want to impose them on me, with great self-righteous fervor. I reject that. My rules say that it is rude to decline invitations. (Obviously, this doesn’t apply to women declining invitations to have sex, or to commercial invitations, or to various other special situations, but it does apply generally.)

      6. y81 said,

        “My rules say that it is rude to decline invitations.”

        Nah, it’s rude to rudely decline invitations.

        (I have a personal rule to accept all kid birthday invites if I can, though, because it’s good for the kids.)

      7. cranberry said,

        “I just wish people would rsvp, i.e. let you know if they’re not coming to an event.”

        Yeah!

        And not flake.

      8. Is y81 really arguing that it’s impolite for a boy/man to decline sex (but OK for a girl/woman to decline)? This really isn’t the rule now, if it was 30 years ago. We teach our boys that they can say no, too, and give examples of reasons why they should consider it.

        On big risk, which many of the moms in my world are having with their 17yo boys, is that a boy who engages in procreative sex won’t be able to completely control becoming a father. As long as abortion remains legal, girls/women can decide when they will be mothers. But, the father of a child in someone else’s body gets no say about whether he will become a father.

      9. It wasn’t the rule 30 years ago. The rules on that have always concerned how you turn down invitations, not that you can’t turn them it.

    3. Right. I think that thinking about sex as not separate from other parts of life makes it easier and intuitive.

      If you invite someone over for dinner, you don’t force feed them if they stop eating halfway through dinner or decline a certain dish, and say “you came over for dinner, so eat the dinner. I thought you wanted it.” It’s ok to be hurt and offended they don’t like your cooking, and you can certainly decide not to invite them over again for dinner, but it wouldn’t be socially acceptable to badger them into eating more dinner than they wanted, or to physically force them to consume more food. Enthusiastic* consent also applies to other parts of life. I am a very good baker and bake in large part to watch people enjoy my baked goods. My husband doesn’t like shortbread or frosting, and that makes me a little sad, but I don’t physically ram my shortbread into his mouth and force him to swallow on the grounds that watching people eat my food makes me happy. Knowing I’m forcing someone to eat food they don’t like doesn’t provide the same sort of pleasure that watching someone enjoy my food does.

      Secondly, sex is a joint activity, and the pleasure of the activity results from both parties contributing and enjoying themselves. Again, with any other activity, if you were doing something with someone clearly going through the motions and not enjoying themselves, you’d stop and ask if they wanted to do it. You’d probably also feel your enjoyment was significantly hampered by their lack of enjoyment. If I’m in a conversation with someone who obviously doesn’t want to be speaking to me, I cut it short and move on. I’m not sure how people think about sex such that it’s an activity that’s in any way fun if one person doesn’t want to be involved, or that social cues we’re capable of reading in other settings magically don’t apply with sex.

      *I too have reservations about the idea of enthusiasm, but I think it’s a minor semantic quibble and not to do with the general ethos.

      1. B.I. said,

        “*I too have reservations about the idea of enthusiasm, but I think it’s a minor semantic quibble and not to do with the general ethos.”

        I have seen the point made that in a long term relationship, one might well not be wildly enthusiastic on particular occasions, but do it anyway out of concern for the other person or for the general health of the relationship.

        However, as I think elizardbreath was mentioning elsewhere, when the situation is two people who aren’t in an established relationship, lack of enthusiastic consent is a huge flashing sign pointing to a strong possibility that there isn’t actually consent at all.

  7. Has anyone called him a rapist? The closest I’ve seen is that the Babe article contains a reference to her processing the evening as a sexual assault, and parts of the story she tells are quite close to the line that would be criminal in New York — attempts to physically compel her to submit to being sexually touched under circumstances where she is not acquiescing. Obviously it’s not the sort of thing that would ever be prosecuted because the consent issues make any kind of criminal intent completely unproveable, but calling what she experienced a sexual assault, even if he obviously couldn’t prosecuted as a rapist, doesn’t seem to me to be over the top at all.

    1. Yes. I think the whole episode has shown that while #MeToo might be pulling a lot of behavior into the light, it has been good about keeping events of different levels of severity distinguished from each other.

      1. But we also have to resist attempts to shut down complaints about one set of behavior on the grounds that it isn’t rape, or that molesting children is worse. And to resist attempts to shut down the whole discussion on the pretense that those discussing them are equating the behaviors, or to be bogged down in discussions of the ranking and severity of behaviors.

      1. Well, according to her story, he, inter alia, grabbed her and humped her from behind at a time after she’d said she didn’t want to have sex,and had come out of the bathroom and told him that if he made her feel forced, she’d hate him. I’m not saying that there’d be any reasonable way to prosecute him for it, or that he should be prosecuted for it. But that really does look to me like unconsented-to sexual contact.

        If a stranger grabbed her on the street and ground his dick against her ass from behind, that’d be a form of (less than rape) sexual assault, right? The only thing that puts Ansari in a different position from that stranger is whatever extent she consented to having him touch her sexually, and from her account of the evening, it’d be a real stretch to say that her consent was unambiguous.

        It’s not prosecutable, and no one at all that I have seen is suggesting that he should be prosecuted. But if it’s reasonable to refer to unconsented-to sexual touching as a form of sexual assault, it doesn’t seem out of line to read that account and say that it incorporated unconsented-to sexual touching.

    2. Also, just shaming, cad shaming. Different from slut shaming because we think the behavior associated with slut shaming is a woman’s own choice (presuming that the partner is not himself signally non-enthusiastic consent), while the cad is imposing on someone else. What should the consequences be? Well there aren’t any legal consequences and I have seen no suggestion of legal consequences in this example. Certainly I can decide this behavior is icky enough that I don’t want to watch Ansari (though I don’t know if I would);

      Is it caddish to (apparently) participate in behavior with someone and then shame them for it afterwards? potentially. But it probably isn’t any more caddish than the behavior being described.

      1. bj said:

        “Certainly I can decide this behavior is icky enough that I don’t want to watch Ansari (though I don’t know if I would)”

        I haven’t watched his recent stuff, but his Tom Haverford character was icky.

      2. y81 said,

        “But only one of the two people gets to do it anonymously.”

        But that’s inherent in the famous person/not-famous person dynamic.

        The flip side of it is that AA has a bigger platform if he wants to say something.

      3. Her friends know who she is. As “two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead,” I wouldn’t be surprised to see her identity exposed at some point. It would be rational for anyone to assume that nothing private will stay private, especially if you’re dating someone under 25.

        Anything can go viral and ruin everyone’s life. Remember the Duke powerpoint?

  8. Does the finding that millennials eat more in restaurants than other generations show anything but that they are younger? I don’t know about everybody else, but during the period between when I left school and when I had a kid, I used to eat in restaurants all the time.

      1. Either way, I think you’d need data from what people ate over a couple of decades prior to provide context.

  9. I was listening to a report on the women’s march, and one point that was made was that a big goal is to empower women, including young women, to run for office. Which brings me to when you might run :-). And, if you did, might there be a book in it? Political science PhD/Mom/Blogger/ runs for office?

  10. “.. snark on twitter today about the Times’s decisions to feature these halfwits on its op-ed page…” If you want more Trump, one way to make it more likely is to sneer at his voters. Deplorables!

    1. and furthermore: we are getting to the ‘strange new respect’ phase, I think – Wall Street Journal today had a long article about coal country people in the far western reaches of VA and their continued backing of the guy and why.

  11. As someone who spent much of my 20s outside the US, I have to say that like healthcare, these “new” norms around consent and sex seem pretty widespread in Europe and Australia, and people there don’t seem to have a problem with the idea sex should be mutually enjoyable and consensual regardless of it’s a one-time thing or a long-term relationship.

    I think a big part of it is that deep down Americans think of sex as something that’s shameful and dirty and as people who have sex freely as shameful and dirty. Mutual pleasure isn’t really a factor, because it’s not about pleasure for either party. Sex is inherently icky and terrible and fraught. It’s a high-stakes bargaining chip women are told they have to negotiate with, so sex in popular culture is framed as antagonistic and transactional. That’s the only way I can see confusing icky (i.e. nonconsensual-ish) sex with simply sex, such that calling out Ansari becomes slut-shaming.

    1. B.I. said,

      “I think a big part of it is that deep down Americans think of sex as something that’s shameful and dirty and as people who have sex freely as shameful and dirty. Mutual pleasure isn’t really a factor, because it’s not about pleasure for either party. Sex is inherently icky and terrible and fraught. It’s a high-stakes bargaining chip women are told they have to negotiate with, so sex in popular culture is framed as antagonistic and transactional.”

      I don’t think that’s a fair description of how normal people live, but I think the reason for your impression is that that is how many of our producers of popular culture view sex: icky, terrible, fraught, antagonistic and transactional.

      Aren’t those five adjectives a pretty fair description of what dealing with Weinstein or Lauer used to be like for women?

      Speaking of Europeans and sex, I have to note that Polanski got prosecuted in the US, but has been enjoying a happy, carefree life of being feted in Europe. The evidence suggests that the events of 1977 were not at all an anomaly, and he should have spent the last 40 years in jail, not enjoying a director’s privileges with regard to young girls and walking the red carpet at Cannes.

      https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/8/17/16156902/roman-polanski-child-rape-charges-explained-samantha-geimer-robin-m

      1. Oh, there are definitely still messed up attitudes towards sex and sexuality, and Europe is certainly not a cultural monolith. But I do think there’s something uniquely sex and pleasure-hating about American culture that probably comes out of our Puritan roots, because I’ve not noticed it in majority Catholic, majority Lutheran, or majority Orthodox countries.

        And you might be right that most Americans have healthy sexual attitudes and sex lives, but I think that media has an outsized effect on shaping youth culture in unhealthy ways.

      2. B.I. said,

        “And you might be right that most Americans have healthy sexual attitudes and sex lives, but I think that media has an outsized effect on shaping youth culture in unhealthy ways.”

        Right, and that’s particularly true for people who don’t have good real life relationships.

    2. Unfortunately, I know women who have reported rape in France (2) and Holland (1). I have spent considerable time in Europe. Bullshit are the new norms widespread in Europe.

  12. This was adorable from Amy Chua’s daughter:

    https://slate.com/human-interest/2018/01/my-parents-work-life-balance-featuring-lulu-chua-rubenfeld-daughter-of-tiger-mother-amy-chua.html

    “When you were growing up, did your parents have rules for you around screen time?

    “I wasn’t allowed to watch TV until college. That’s a weird fact. I didn’t discover Netflix until freshman year and my mind was just absolutely blown.

    “Did your parents obey those rules themselves?

    “Yeah. I don’t even think they had a TV in their bedroom until I left for college. Then I came back my first Thanksgiving and they were binging some trashy show on Netflix, like watching a season a night. I’m like, “What has happened here?””

  13. OK, I’m finally reading Megan McArdle’s piece.

    This bit jumped out at me:

    “Which brings us to “affirmative consent,” the idea that — under pain of prosecution for rape — men must stop unless women are actively and enthusiastically consenting. This idea of hyperconsent is now very popular among feminists, and it would be appealing if it weren’t so totally unworkable. For one thing, because affirmative consent can presumably be withdrawn at any time, including by silence, men would be expected to operate under a perpetual state of uncertainty over whether they still have consent now.”

    I’ve actually been in a discussion on a Catholic forum where a young Red Pill guy made exactly the same argument with regard to affirmative consent, and several of the older married posters (including myself) suggested that yes, there are ways to be pretty sure that the lady is enthusiastically consenting. He didn’t believe us. Sad!

    So, it kind of blows my mind to see MM making the same argument.

    “Convincing women as a group to demand better — and leave in an outraged huff if they don’t get it — seems difficult, but at least marginally more likely to work than convincing men that they don’t really want what they quite obviously do.”

    Wanting is different from getting.

    How well did the status quo work for Aziz Ansari? He can’t have been very satisfied with his evening.

    I also hear immense amounts of whining in the manosphere–people like Roosh V get burnt out by their lifestyle. As an introvert, I totally understand–the social burden of continually trying to meet new people all the time sounds like hell, but it’s a hell of their own making.

    http://www.rooshv.com/the-beginning-of-the-end

    1. “O would some power the giftie gie us/To see ourselves as others see us.” I would bet that the friends of Amy P and her sisters may not find them quite as consistent and transparent about their intentions and desires as they find themselves to be. Now, if you want to believe that you are always consistent and transparent, and that all the men who have ever misunderstood you are willfully blind scumbags, I can’t stop you, but, really, you should stop, and pray Burns’s prayer, and turn, and be saved, because if you don’t, not only will you perpetrate considerable injustice, but you will have an unhappy existence. (Note that “Grace” is not, in fact, a happy person and does not generally enjoy success in her romantic endeavors.)

      1. Is it possible that you’re projecting a little from personal experience that doesn’t apply more broadly? That is, you’ve had a whole lot of undesired sex that you were having because of a perceived obligation of manners, and presumably you were also feigning enjoyment out of a similar belief as to what manners required — someone you were having sex with when you didn’t want to might reasonably not know that, because you were intentionally (with good intent) deceiving them about that.

        But you’ve been clear that you don’t see that obligation (to have sex when asked unless you had a religious or fidelity-based excuse) as applying to women. And at that point, when there’s no motive to be actively deceptive, it does get a lot easier to tell when someone wants to be participating in sex and when they don’t. Taking Grace’s story at face value, I can imagine Ansari being confused at points about what he could do without actually violating laws against sexual assault. I can’t imagine him being confused, past a fairly early point in the story, about whether she was having a good time and was happy to be there with him having sex — “If you make me feel forced, I’ll hate you” is pretty clear in that regard, let alone everything she said about moving away from him and hiding in the bathroom.

        Tl:dr –it might be hard to tell when someone’s enthusiastically consenting if they’re deliberately acting to misrepresent their feelings, but less so otherwise.

      2. y81 said,

        “I would bet that the friends of Amy P and her sisters may not find them quite as consistent and transparent about their intentions and desires as they find themselves to be. Now, if you want to believe that you are always consistent and transparent, and that all the men who have ever misunderstood you are willfully blind scumbags”

        Look, I’m a super duper Catholic lady, married going on 20 years, with three children.

        I had a relatively brief dating career (got taken off the market at 22), but I did have just enough time out there to develop a lingering distaste for people who believe that “no” is a murky, difficult to understand word and that consent interferes with having a zippy sex life.

        Here’s the thing–if it’s not completely transparent and if it’s not clear what the other person wants, STOP and find out.

        This is very simple.

        Husband and I have been doing NFP for nearly 20 years. We are very, very clear about what we’re doing and have no miscommunications. That’s my vantage point for this discussion. I literally don’t understand why a decent person would want to go forward with sex, without being certain that the other person was 100% on board given all of the potential negative repercussions of doing so.

        And yes, we are married people who know each other really well–but that’s all the more reason for people who don’t know each other very well to put even more effort into communicating what they do and don’t want and listening to what the other person says and yes, pushing the EJECT button if those two things do not line up.

      3. elizardbreath said:

        “Tl:dr –it might be hard to tell when someone’s enthusiastically consenting if they’re deliberately acting to misrepresent their feelings, but less so otherwise.”

        Yes.

      4. Based on their respective life histories, I would think that Megan McArdle would know a whole lot more about the topics at hand than Amy P. Why would getting married at age 22 and staying married for 20 years qualify someone to discuss dating and non-marital sex?

      5. y81,

        “Based on their respective life histories, I would think that Megan McArdle would know a whole lot more about the topics at hand than Amy P. Why would getting married at age 22 and staying married for 20 years qualify someone to discuss dating and non-marital sex?”

        I spend a lot of time online on the problems of Young People Today.

        So, I believe my intel (although less hands on) is fresher than MM’s.

        Bear in mind that Millennials are less promiscuous than Gen-Xers and Gen-Xers were less promiscuous than Boomers.

        “In their calculations that isolated these so-called generational effects, the average number of partners for a baby boomer born in the 1950s was 11.68. The comparable figure for millennials was 8.26, the researchers found.”

        http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-millennials-sex-attitudes-20150508-story.html

      6. Everybody I know of who thinks it commonly considered bad manners for a man to refuse sex without being able to claim religion or injured testicles recommends MM’s advice on sex and relationships. That’s not helping.

      7. y81 said:

        “Based on their respective life histories, I would think that Megan McArdle would know a whole lot more about the topics at hand than Amy P.”

        Again, Megan McArdle is VERY tall (I thought she was 6’3″ but it seems to be 6’2″). Being that size probably makes one feel safer and more confident in more situations than the average-sized woman.

        “Why would getting married at age 22 and staying married for 20 years qualify someone to discuss dating and non-marital sex?”

        I don’t know about MM, but I have had the benefit of being able to compare:

        a) a rape-y much older boyfriend from my college years who had a lot of trouble with the whole “consent” thing

        and

        b) my future and current husband.

        You really don’t need to have more experience than that to get the difference between somebody who understands and somebody who doesn’t understand consent, as well as to grasp that a lot of complaints about “not understanding” are disingenuous.

        There’s an Upton Sinclair quote that says, ““It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

        I would modify that to, “It is difficult to get a man to understand consent, when his sex life depends on not understanding it.”

      8. What’s the point of dating? Is it to have a succession of one night stands, or is it to meet a significant other? On this thread, and other commentaries, people have said of “Grace,” “she wanted romance.” It’s not an either/or thing. As a photographer, it’s quite possible she was there to network (and if she were male, going out to dinner would not be seen as giving license to a one night stand.)

        Megan McArdle states, If there are enough women willing to accommodate men who approach romance like a deranged mink, then other women will feel they have to go along. It is no more realistic to tell an individual woman to opt out of this dynamic than it would be to encourage her to bring down capitalism by quitting her job. Since our society does not consider sitting home alone in your apartment night after night to be a minimally acceptable alternative to casual sex, women may feel that the sex they agree to is consensual, but not euconsensual. And they end up feeling violated when it becomes clear that he is (yes, again) interested in only the one thing.

        Well, there are women for whom such behavior means a man is not suitable to be a significant other. There’s no sense investing resources in something that won’t pan out long term. The dating market is not stable (thank God!) People enter and leave at will. The most successful in the market never enter it again, bar the death of a partner.

        We don’t know enough about “Grace” to determine if she’s happy or not. We do know she is young. The age difference is more significant than it once was. (Glances at articles claiming one of the Bachelor contestants is too young at 22.)

      9. Cranberry said:

        “We don’t know enough about “Grace” to determine if she’s happy or not. We do know she is young. The age difference is more significant than it once was. (Glances at articles claiming one of the Bachelor contestants is too young at 22.)”

        Yes, I was wanting to mention the age difference.

        Aziz Ansari is 34 years old. He’s had a lot of time to get his stuff together. There’s a big gap between that and 23 these days.

        Older people do have more responsibility in these situations.

    2. AmyP: I looked at the Roosh V blog. What a messed up person. And a messed up lifestyle.

      How in the world can you read more than a few pages of such writings? Is this an outreach project to counsel young “red pill” men away from the lifestyle?

  14. Cranberry said:

    “AmyP: I looked at the Roosh V blog. What a messed up person. And a messed up lifestyle.
    How in the world can you read more than a few pages of such writings?”

    I don’t actually read Roosh V or hang out in those parts, but he’s a well-known personality in the manosphere and gets quoted a lot as a pickup expert. He also has a great many “books” on Amazon. Some titles: Day Bang, Bang, 30 Bangs, Bang Ukraine, Bang Colombia, Bang Poland, Bang Iceland, Don’t Bang Latvia, Bang Lithuania, Bang Estonia, Don’t Bang Denmark, etc. Basically, he’s a professional sex tourist. I can’t find it right now, but there was a discussion in one of his forums where guys were raving about the pickup technique that works as follows: walk (no doubt tipsy) woman home, ask to use her bathroom, refuse to leave her apartment until she has sex, etc.

    I suggest that any parents of teens or young adults familiarize themselves with the basics of the manosphere, steer boys gently away from it (and make sure they have good social skills and a decent social life and good boundaries), and make sure girls are familiar with the basic pickup techniques (negging, kino, hitting on dozens of women, dragging drunk girls home, etc.) and have good boundaries.

    http://www.thepuaschool.com/kino-escalation/

    https://xkcd.com/1027/

    So many of these guys are selling books, courses or “systems,” so there’s a huge profit motive to exaggerate the effectiveness of the methods. Also, the manosphere offers male camaraderie and belonging to men who don’t have it in real life.

    “Is this an outreach project to counsel young “red pill” men away from the lifestyle?”

    I don’t go to those parts (because those people doxx like you wouldn’t believe), but I have encountered and chatted with a bunch of them on the big Catholic forum where I spend a lot of time. A lot of the sad socially awkward single young men (many of them who are likely Aspies) are either Red Pill or are being recruited by the Red Pill guys–it’s a pretty easy sell to tell guys like that alphas are scooping up all the women, and if they just take the Red Pill, they too can do the same thing. And if they can’t, it’s because they’re not alpha enough yet/women are *itches, etc. Here’s a really good piece on the phenomenon:

    https://www.newstatesman.com/science-tech/internet/2017/02/reddit-the-red-pill-interview-how-misogyny-spreads-online

    As that article mentions, guys do leave the Red Pill or grow out of it, but it has very cult-like features, and harassment and doxxing is a real possibility. I’ve heard from at least two guys who left that it was extremely psychologically damaging to them.

    I also see a lot of the hybrid conservative Christian/Red Pill hybrid, but they mix happily with very secular PUA types. It’s pretty gross.

    As the New Statesman article mentions, a big reason why guys swallow the more toxic Red Pill beliefs is that they come packaged with pretty basic commonsense (good posture, exercise, diet, nice clothes, good boundaries). I often hear these guys online say that they couldn’t get this advice anywhere else and I’m like huh? But the Red Pill is a sort of magic feather for guys with low self-confidence and you see them spending year after year in the group, not making any progress in their personal lives and holding out for the magical hawt submissive thin 22-year-old virgin that they believe they deserve.

    1. No one who follows this person has an idea of doing due diligence as to success rates?

      As to generational promiscuity, it’s an interesting trend. Have you read about the Japanese? Their trend is getting very strange very quickly. Talk about a shrinking population. A survey of Japanese people aged 18 to 34 found that almost 70 percent of unmarried men and 60 percent of unmarried women are not in a relationship.

      Moreover, many of them have never got close and cuddly. Around 42 percent of the men and 44.2 percent of the women admitted they were virgins.

      (…)
      Far from getting together and getting it on, the sexes are growing apart. There are now many more virgins than in 2010, when the last study was conducted and when only 36.2 percent of men and 38.7 percent of women said they had never had sex.

      The study, released Thursday, was conducted by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research.

      The institute has conducted the same survey every five years since 1987, when the proportion of unmarried men and women who said they had no partner stood at 48.6 percent and 39.5 percent, respectively.

      That’s stunning.

    2. Cranberry said:

      “No one who follows this person has an idea of doing due diligence as to success rates?”

      Yeah. PUA success rates are actually terrible compared to normal people (even by the numbers they give)–it’s just that they annoy vast amounts of women.

      I don’t know the term for the logical fallacy or research mistake involved, but they do their thing, get rejected by dozens of women, get their one score, and then brag that the method works on “women” when it didn’t work on the ones who rejected them.

      I was just looking at a thread on PUA success rates, and apparently an enormous number of the phone numbers they get are fake.

    3. I’ve said this before, but I really admire the work you do in those communities. I read in the man-o-sphere on and off, and it’s such a toxic space, and it absolutely preys on insecure lonely men. FWIW, I agree with basically everything you’ve written on sex and consent, and I’m pretty different from you politically, not Catholic, and about 10 years younger.

      But I completely agree with you, how hard is it for people to get that sex should be pleasurable for both parties, and how is it that people are so into sex with people clearly not interested? I get uncomfortable talking to someone who clearly isn’t interested talking to me, and I can’t imagine finding it in any way pleasurable to have sex with someone whose clearly not into it. Nothing would make me feel less sexy. I’m also depressed at the idea that women have sex simply because they think of it as part of the “calculation” on getting men to be in relationships, rather than because they themselves desire to have sex. My only “calculation” is: do I want to have sex, with this person, in this moment? Will it be pleasurable? Will I feel good about it later? If the answer is yes, I have sex. If it’s no, I don’t. I don’t really care what the guy thinks about me later, because I’m having sex for me, not because I think it’s something I have to dole out to a man to keep him interested.

      1. B.I. said:

        “I’ve said this before, but I really admire the work you do in those communities.”

        Thank you!

        I don’t think I can take responsibility, but individuals do grow out of it and leave.

      2. “I get uncomfortable talking to someone who clearly isn’t interested talking to me . . . .” Maybe you can explain to Lena Dunham that men don’t have an obligation to be sexually interested in her–or interested in any other way, actually.

      3. ““I get uncomfortable talking to someone who clearly isn’t interested talking to me . . . .” Maybe you can explain to Lena Dunham that men don’t have an obligation to be sexually interested in her–or interested in any other way, actually.”

        I have no idea what this means, but maybe you should ask Lena Dunham, rather than BI (who is not required to speak for all women).

        I recently had a conversation with my kiddo, who said that one of her goals in her educational experience is to not have to explain other groups’ perspectives in classroom conversations and discussions. She is an outlier in many ways, but that does not make her a representative of all outliers, capable of talking about all experiences and histories. It was an insightful reminder.

    1. Related:

      http://www.newsweek.com/58-harvard-came-school-virgins-quarter-leave-way-336847

      “Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they were virgins when they arrived at Harvard, and nearly a quarter said they had not had sex by graduation. Nineteen percent of male students said they had engaged in sex with 10 or more sexual partners at Harvard, while 7 percent of female respondents said the same.”

      In this environment, averages can be very misleading.

      1. “Almost half the class” returned the survey; the gender breakdown does not seem to be published in the Crimson. So it’s a big assumption that the survey respondents reflect their classmates who did not respond. I’ve heard rumors there are other colleges in Boston & Cambridge, so it’s possible the male & female sex enthusiasts are responding accurately.

        As to Japan, the survey results are published in English: http://www.ipss.go.jp/ps-doukou/e/doukou15/Nfs15R_points_eng.pdf

        “The proportion of never-married men and women without sexual experience is on the rise in the last five years (men 36.2 → 42.0%, women 38.7 → 44.2%).” Whatever sexual experience means to a survey respondent in Japan. Nevertheless, the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research has been asking the same question every five years since 1987. Looking at the chart on page 6, it could be that the 2015 respondents are more similar to the 1987 respondents than the most recent surveys.

  15. Cranberry said,

    “I’ve heard rumors there are other colleges in Boston & Cambridge, so it’s possible the male & female sex enthusiasts are responding accurately.”

    I suspect that being a male Harvard upperclassman is a real selling point. [Insert y81 anecdote of youthful indiscretions at Yale.]

    This is a bit old (2011), but the numbers are similar.

    http://www.newser.com/story/115348/in-college-more-virgins-and-more-casual-sex.html

    “The college life is getting more chaste—and more randy—at the same time, according to recent studies. A Stanford sociologist who surveyed a whopping 17,000 college students since 2005 found that a hefty 24% of seniors said they were virgins.”

    I see a lot of advice column letters from 20-somethings who have never dated, never kissed, etc. That minority exists side by side with a very busy population in the same age group. I suppose the late-bloomers are helping to produce the lower partner counts among millennials compared to Gen-X and the Boomers.

    1. Well, when my wife was at Harvard Law, Lesley College (next door) was often described as ‘the mattress of the Law School’. Less true these days, I suspect, with assortative mating more common.

    2. “Insert y81 anecdote . . . .”

      I went to college in a very different time, culturally. The economic malaise of the Nixon/Ford/Carter years meant that no one had any particular hope of great riches. Business books of the time generally considered that the age of great fortunes was over. Also, the excitement of second wave feminism was still strong, so it was believed that women of our cohort would be just as economically successful as men. I never heard anyone mention mercenary considerations in dating. (Within ten years, FEP [future earning potential] would become a hot quality in yuppie males.) Lots of things that were thought then have not happened, and things undreamt of have come to pass.

  16. Has anyone read about the British Presidents Club dinner?

    Men Only: Inside the charity fundraiser where hostesses are put on show

    https://www.ft.com/content/075d679e-0033-11e8-9650-9c0ad2d7c5b5

    No 10 to review gagging clauses after Presidents Club scandal

    https://www.ft.com/content/fb21b910-01c4-11e8-9650-9c0ad2d7c5b5

    Note that the hostesses at the event had to sign an NDA that they were neither allowed to read nor to take with them. (Question to the lawyers: is a form you’re not allowed to read binding?)

    News of the way the eminent men treated the wait staff at the dinner comes out, charity closes its doors.

    A feature of the ongoing shift in opinion is that women are not keeping quiet about their experiences. The old system depended upon women (and other victims) not talking. For bad dates, for older women, there is an expectation (judging from the opinion pieces written by older women) that younger women should Keep Quiet and Carry On. Don’t warn other women when someone’s a cad. Don’t warn other women publicly when an institution run by and for powerful men sets up young women to be “annoyed.”

    But what if younger women don’t behave that way? Because they aren’t. Look at the “sh**** men in media” list circulating. The undercover Financial Times reporters. The group text threads, Instagram stories, and they have running with friends. A quick search turned up many, many online sites collecting “bad date” stories. Many of the writers are not anonymous.

    I’m old enough to remember when people started talking about molestation. In public, in the press. There were of course panics and innocent people harmed by mistakes. However, not talking about molestation is no longer the norm.

    The younger generation have grown up with technical devices ever-present. Our local high school put in cameras to monitor hallways more than a decade ago. Online trackers (cookies, etc.) monitor everything we do online. Privacy is disappearing. Young women and men are the focus of the dating marketplace. Everyone should be aware that young people in their early 20s will not keep quiet if they are offended.

    1. Cranberry said:

      “The old system depended upon women (and other victims) not talking. For bad dates, for older women, there is an expectation (judging from the opinion pieces written by older women) that younger women should Keep Quiet and Carry On. Don’t warn other women when someone’s a cad.”

      It’s interesting that you mention this. I was elsewhere discussing two different pieces with exactly that message:

      https://dayonecomptwo.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/paglia_vs_jacoby.pdf

      That’s a Camille Paglia piece from 1991 that I remember reading when it came out. (WARNING: If you click, parts of this may be the creepiest thing you read today, as it takes the view that men are basically all rapists, but that it’s women’s job to manage them.) She hates the fact that young women on campus at the time were scrawling names of alleged rapists on restroom doors rather than fending them off with sheer force of personality Paglia-style or going straight to the police if that doesn’t work. (Come to think of it, if all men are rape-y, what would be the point of seeking help from men? Hmmm.)

      Then I was reading this much less famous writer (a middle aged Red Pill Woman with a very enthusiastic male Red Pill audience):

      https://notesfromaredpillgirl.com/2018/01/10/the-problem-with-metoo/

      She said this in the comments to that post:

      “If women are assaulted or raped, the place to talk about that is at a hospital or police station, not social media. Innocent until proven guilty in a court of law is a much better way to run a society than by mob rule. Looking back in history easily proves this. Mob rules and accusations automatically taken as fact leads to horrible things.”

      I also don’t care for punishment meted out by social media, but it’s a fantastic way to gather information.

      Anyway, I think you’re right about generational differences.

      1. Here’s a snip of something I wrote elsewhere about the attitude:

        “Essentially, [RPG–the Red Pill woman blogger] is stating that there are two different categories of events:

        a) criminal sexual assault and rape that should only be talked about with the police and medical personnel

        and

        b) nothingburger stuff that women should handle individually with the guy involved, rather than having any recourse to third parties

        and nothing in between.”

      2. If you could rely on the police and medical personnel taking action that would lead to a swift and fair trial in a court of law, perhaps. However, if you search for “rape kit backlog” you will find that there are tens of thousands of rape kits across the country that have not been tested. A fair number have been destroyed.

        There’s also the unfortunate fact that only through public knowledge of accusations do other women feel safe coming forward.

        This week the Larry Nassar trial came to an end. The public knowledge of his actions began according to the wiki, in 2016, when two gymnasts came forward. One of the first accusers stated the abuse started in 2000. This man abused more than a hundred and fifty young girls at least (as there were 150 victims speaking at his trial.)

        Adding to the difficulty is that it does seem that not all men are “rapey.” There’s a much smaller number who commit many crimes. It would be a good idea to test the kits.

        However, the “Red Pill Woman” is confusing an accused person’s right to being considered innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the law, and a victim’s right to talk about his or her experiences.

      3. Cranberry,

        I agree absolutely, especially with this part:

        “However, the “Red Pill Woman” is confusing an accused person’s right to being considered innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the law, and a victim’s right to talk about his or her experiences.”

    2. I have read about that the President’s Club scandal. That’s why I think the #MeToo backlash exists, because #MeToo is working like intended and very good at accurately publicizing offenders.. Large numbers of men will behave horribly if not held accountable and #MeToo has been increasingly good at putting the accounts out there.

      I don’t see what that scandal has to do with bad dating encounters. It’s not like the Financial Times was reporting on a bad date.

      1. The Financial Times was reporting on a charity dinner in which the men were given license to behave “dishonorably” and the young, attractive female servers were expected to shut up and take it, in large part because a requirement of the job was to sign non-disclosure agreements.

        The connection in part is the dissonance between the male attendees’ public personas–UK minister of children and families, for example–and attendance at such an event. http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-42813873

        And of course everyone in charge of or funding the event is shocked, shocked! to hear that untoward behavior has taken place at a dinner at which the serving staff were encouraged to drink alcohol while wearing revealing clothing provided by the organizers.

      2. I find it hard to believe they figured a nondisclosure agreement signed by dozens of women being paid 150 pounds would be worth the paper it was printed on.

      3. Young women. Not experienced in the ways of the world. Not able to consider hiring a lawyer to defend themselves against whatever penalties were listed in the document they weren’t allowed to read.

        Many things are covered by NDAs. The Boston Globe has covered abuse in the prep school world. Many of the cases came to light once the victims were adults. Those adults decided to speak out about the abuse they suffered–against the terms of earlier settlements their parents had signed.

        https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/05/06/private-schools-painful-secrets/OaRI9PFpRnCTJxCzko5hkN/story.html

        Survivors of abuse are now trying to change this culture, simply by telling their stories. Last December, the Globe revealed the ordeal of Anne Scott, who as a young woman was pressured into signing a gag order about her alleged rape by St. George’s then-athletic trainer Al Gibbs. Since Scott’s revelations, lawyers for victims say they have received credible allegations that nearly 50 alumni were sexually abused — most by staff, some by other students.

  17. I kind of hate the idea of an NDA, for all the obvious reasons – lets the perp go on with his (generally, his) life and maybe perp again. On the other hand, the victim gets something out of it: (s)he gets paid! and doesn’t have to spend a huge amount on lawyers. Stormy Daniels is reported to have a hundred and thirty thousand dollars she wouldn’t have otherwise had. A perp is going to fight like crazy against a judgment which will become public, justice has been known to miscarry… there’s a public interest in getting the truth out, but it goes against (in some cases, at least) the interests of the victim. I don’t have a clear conclusion here. Y81, you got anything smart to say?

    1. You should maybe consider the difference between consensual sex and rape, for starters. I thought Andrea Dworkin was passe, but apparently it still bears repeating: not all sex is rape.

    2. I think it’s funny that a bunch of anonymous internet commentators are opposed to confidentiality. Let’s hope Laura doesn’t take us up on it.

  18. Decided to do a dive on the internet into the Kentucky shooting (not sure if I wish I hadn’t) after seeing a picture of the young woman who was killed. And, indeed the ability to control information is clearly dying if not dead. The official newspapers all suppress the name of the shooter (who is 15), but it’s a pretty quick jump to find plenty of sites where he is named, pictured, and his story discussed (along with at least one misidentification). There’s personal stories of his life and the life of his family (all unverified, but you can’t unsee it once you’ve found it). One of the shooting victims posted to Instagram before surgery (if true, truly bizarre in my way of looking at the world, but clearly the world is a different place).

  19. bj said,

    “One of the shooting victims posted to Instagram before surgery (if true, truly bizarre in my way of looking at the world, but clearly the world is a different place).”

    Her friends would want to know that she was OK. Not a social media person, but I think that was actually pretty thoughtful.

    1. Yes, but it is a picture now available to the internet — public posts? Yes, the goal could have been to share information, and not to garner likes and followers, but the effect is the same — no privacy.

      1. bj said,

        “Yes, but it is a picture now available to the internet — public posts? Yes, the goal could have been to share information, and not to garner likes and followers, but the effect is the same — no privacy.”

        I know–but privacy might not seem very important in the context of having nearly been killed.

        (But yeah, she might regret it later.)

      2. This generation has never had privacy. That’s an outdated concept.

        You’ll think I’m joking.

        This week, fitness tracker data has (allegedly) unmasked secret sites. Google’s always-on camera sold out. (https://www.theverge.com/2017/10/5/16428708/google-clips-camera-privacy-parents-children)

        These kids have been watched by cameras in the nursery. They’ve been watched by cameras in their schools, on buses, in stores and on city streets. They’ve been tracked by cell phone. They’ve “checked in” to locations. They’ve used emojis to communicate their emotions to friends.

        The entire concept of keeping a secret is…antiquated. They’re also in contact with each other much more intensively than we ever were. There is also so much data available for everyone, from years of electronic monitoring. I have less than a hundred Facebook friends. My children have more than a thousand.

  20. This is interesting (and comes with some bonus Andrew Sullivan bashing):

    http://theweek.com/articles/749978/female-price-male-pleasure

    “Why didn’t she just get out of there as soon as she felt uncomfortable? many people explicitly or implicitly asked [about Grace].

    “It’s a rich question, and there are plenty of possible answers. But if you’re asking in good faith, if you really want to think through why someone might have acted as she did, the most important one is this: Women are enculturated to be uncomfortable most of the time. And to ignore their discomfort.”

    “This is what Andrew Sullivan basically proposed in his latest, startlingly unscientific column. #MeToo has gone too far, he argues, by refusing to confront the biological realities of maleness. Feminism, he says, has refused to give men their due and denied the role “nature” must play in these discussions.”

    “Sullivan claims he came to “understand the sheer and immense natural difference between being a man and being a woman” thanks to a testosterone injection he received. That is to say, he imagines maleness can be isolated to an injectable hormone and doesn’t bother to imagine femaleness at all.”

    “The real problem isn’t that we — as a culture — don’t sufficiently consider men’s biological reality. The problem is rather that theirs is literally the only biological reality we ever bother to consider.”

    “Research shows that 30 percent of women report pain during vaginal sex, 72 percent report pain during anal sex, and “large proportions” don’t tell their partners when sex hurts.”

    “A casual survey of forums where people discuss “bad sex” suggests that men tend to use the term to describe a passive partner or a boring experience. (Here’s a very unscientific Twitter poll I did that found just that.) But when most women talk about “bad sex,” they tend to mean coercion, or emotional discomfort or, even more commonly, physical pain.”

    And there’s apparently data to support this.

    “An 8 on a man’s Bad Sex scale is like a 1 on a woman’s.”

    “Yet here’s a direct quote from a scientific article about how (contra their reputation for complaining and avoiding discomfort) women are worryingly tough: “Everyone who regularly encounters the complaint of dyspareunia knows that women are inclined to continue with coitus, if necessary, with their teeth tightly clenched.”

    !!!

    “It boggles the mind that Sullivan thinks we don’t sufficiently consider men’s biological reality when our entire society has agreed to organize itself around the pursuit of the straight male orgasm.”

      1. Doug said,

        “I’m thinking I need to start saying about Andrew Sullivan what I always say about David Brooks.”

        I think I was most appalled by his belief that having been a low-testosterone gay man who went on testosterone gave him special insight into biological differences between heterosexual men and heterosexual women.

      2. A FB friend of mine posted Brooks’ column from yesterday, which I automatically read because the title said something about East Germans. I was making my way through the article and thinking “Gee, I’d like to agree with the point, but the way the writer is arguing this is incredibly facile and stupid and makes no sense,” and then I looked at the byline.
        FDLFRDB!

  21. I’ve been thinking about my experiences in Western Europe and the conversation here, especially Amy P’s comments. I think the main difference, one which holds true across really different places with different moral systems, gender attitudes and religious backgrounds, is that in Western Europe a sexual encounter isn’t set outside the general social norms of politeness and decorum, whereas in America it apparently is. Having a one-night stand and treating someone like a pig is considered rude, antisocial behavior, because treating people like a pig generally is considered rude and antisocial. It has nothing to do with sex in particular. Sleeping with someone and then sneaking out in the middle of the night would be equivalent to going to someone’s house for coffee and then leaving while they’re in the bathroom. It would be bafflingly rude. Having a casual sexual encounter and forcing your fingers into someone’s mouth is the equivalent of going to someone’s house for coffee and then attempting to physically pour the coffee in their mouth. It has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with being a rude antisocial pig. If you behaved like Ansari did, a woman wouldn’t feel dirty or sad, she’d feel disgusted and appalled. She’d tell her friends you were a rude pig, and men and women would judge you harshly, just as if you were a rude pig on a sports field or at a restaurant or dinner party (in fact, in a place like Italy they’d probably judge you more harshly, because being rude in the bedroom is way worse than being rude out in public). Being close enough with someone to have a sexual relationship with them requires you to treat people courteously for the duration of the encounter, even if they’re strangers, even if it’s a one-night stand. For the life of me, this is what I find mind boggling about Americans. We’re in general a polite society, but somehow politeness and commonsense isn’t expected to extend to sexual relationships, especially casual ones between young people. (And here I agree with Amy P that probably (hopefully!) most adult Americans in LT relationships have healthy sexual relationships based on mutual respect and pleasure, but this doesn’t really get featured as the norm in public discourse.)

    1. Sleeping with someone and then sneaking out in the middle of the night would be equivalent to going to someone’s house for coffee and then leaving while they’re in the bathroom.

      That’s why you always excuse yourself to use the bathroom and then sneak out the window.

  22. To continue my novel, again, what is so baffling is that we don’t believe adults have the right to physically force themselves on people outside of sex, so why would it be OK with sex? I’m think of an analogy with ballroom dancing, a physical activity between two consenting adults. You can casually ballroom dance with strangers, you can regularly ballroom dance with a spouse, you can have a ballroom dance partner you only see when dancing. But to continue the analogy, if I ask someone to dance, they have a right to say yes or no. I don’t get to grab someone and force him to dance with me because he’s at a dance so he must want it. Likewise, if in the middle of the dance, he feels sick or decides I keep stepping on his toes and he wants to stop, he can bow out and I’m not going to grab him and force him to continue. If we’re dancing and he stops moving, I’m also going to stop and ask him what’s wrong. I’m not going to just keep attempting to push around his immobile body in an attempt to finish the dance. And importantly, none of this is very fraught or hard or needs to be taught, because it’s instinctual to someone raised competently with American politeness norms. If as an adult I have to physically manipulate another adult to do an activity with me, I’m going to stop what I’m doing and check in. Even if it doesn’t require much physical force and even if they’re not verbally no, I’m going to notice if my partner has checked out of the activity, whether it’s hiking, talking, or dancing, and I’m going to stop and ask them what’s up. I have the right be put out they want to stop, I have the right to feel like my evening is ruined, and I have the right to not want to invite them to do the activity again. I do not have the right to physically manipulate them into continuing, however. This isn’t rocket science, and when people pretend like it is, I’m going to assume their feigned stupidity is in bad faith.

    1. I find this discussion very strange, when it is framed as a Europe versus America contrast. If cultural attitudes were as B.I. says, Roman Polanski and Dominique Strauss-Kahn would be indicted in Europe and feted in America, which is exactly the opposite of the truth.

      Now, it may be that B.I.’s European friends have different attitudes about sex than her American friends, but as a generalization about continents, rather than about the handful of people one might know on the two continents, it doesn’t hold up at all.

      1. There are sexual predators everywhere, just like there are serial killers everywhere. I’m not talking about the Polanskis and Strauss-Kahns and Weinsteins, or even the garden-variety non famous serial rapists. There’s also plenty of sexism in Europe. What I’m talking about are general social norms and discourses towards sex held by young people, the vast majority of whom are not sexual predators or rapists.

      2. Conservatism started with reflections on the revolution in France and ended with attempting to prove points by deploying a limited set of names in arguments as if everybody who disagrees with a conservative has to be lumped together for all time with each other.

      3. In my experience, America is very uneven in the degree of sexism, and it goes without saying that “Western Europe” is not a unified cultural entity. Speaking in somewhat gross but well-grounded generalizations, Scandinavia is less sexist than America, Germany is similar (although different), France is similar or maybe worse (but again, different from both the US and Germany), and Italy is mostly worse, and also differs between Northern and Southern Italy. Given the vastly differing degrees of sexism AND general differences in attitudes, what I find so interesting is that you do have these similarities related to etiquette across regions that seem somewhat stable. In Italy vs. Sweden social politeness etiquette is almost diametrically oppposed, gender roles are conceived differently, and sexual attitudes are also very different. In both places, however, being rude in bed (according to local cultural norms) is highly stigmatized. In the US, the same thing holds true but it’s flipped. There are real cultural differences between different parts of the country, but being rude in bed is somehow considered par for the course with casual sexual experience. It’s apparently the one thing that unites rural and urban, Red and Blue state Americans.

      4. “general social norms and discourses towards sex held by young people”

        Here are some things that I deny absolutely: (i) that middle-aged people like ourselves could possibly have any statistically valid insight into the minds of young people, based on our personal acquaintance (even if you surf the net a bunch!), (ii) that anyone can, from personal experience, distinguish age, cohort, and period effects, and (iii) that anyone could know more than one culture well enough to make valid generalizations about it. All three of these truths are amply supported by social science research.

      5. y81 said,

        “Here are some things that I deny absolutely: (i) that middle-aged people like ourselves could possibly have any statistically valid insight into the minds of young people, based on our personal acquaintance (even if you surf the net a bunch!), (ii) that anyone can, from personal experience, distinguish age, cohort, and period effects, and (iii) that anyone could know more than one culture well enough to make valid generalizations about it. All three of these truths are amply supported by social science research.”

        Here’s something I have a lot of confidence in saying: there is a large minority of young people today who are being (metaphorically speaking) raised by wolves, and are figuring out everything by themselves with the help (or “help”) of the internet.

      6. “(iii) that anyone could know more than one culture well enough to make valid generalizations about it.”

        After 20 years in Germany, and continuous close contact with America, I disagree. It’s true that the generalization I am most likely to make about either is “It’s complicated,” followed by “Consider the history,” and rounded off with a reluctance to generalize in general.

        Nevertheless, there are plenty of people with enough cultural knowledge in more than one place to make generalizations that are no worse than those who only know one culture.

  23. Regarding proper etiquette between the sexes (Emily Post 1922)

    SITTING OUT DANCES

    On the other hand, if a girl is sitting in another room, or on the stairs with a man alone, a second one should not interrupt, or ask her to dance. If she is sitting in a group, he can go up and ask her, “Don’t you want to dance some of this?” She then either smiles and says, “Not just now—I am very tired,” or if she likes him, she may add, “Come and sit with us!” 81
    To refuse to dance with one man and then immediately dance with another is an open affront to the first one—excusable only if he was intoxicated or otherwise actually offensive so that the affront was both intentional and justifiable. But under ordinary circumstances, if she is “dancing,” she must dance with everyone who asks her; if she is “not dancing,” she must not make exceptions. 82
    An older lady can very properly refuse to dance and then perhaps dance briefly with her son or husband, without hurting her guest’s proper pride, but having refused to dance with one gentleman she must not change her mind and dance later with another. 83
    A young girl who is dancing may not refuse to change partners when another “cuts in.” This is the worst phase of the “cutting in” custom; those who particularly want to dance together are often unable to take more than a dozen steps before being interrupted. Once in a while a girl will shake her head “No” to a “stag” who darts toward her. But that is considered rude. A few others have devised dancing with their eyes shut as a signal that they do not want to be “cut in on.” But this is neither customary nor even a generally known practise. 84
    It is always the privilege of the girl to stop dancing; a man is supposed to dance on and on, until she—or the music—stops.

    1. It is always the privilege of the girl to stop dancing; a man is supposed to dance on and on, until she—or the music—stops.

      From now only, I’m picturing Emily Post holding a riding crop and demanding men lick her boots.

      1. You guys are hilarious!

        I learned a lot from Judith Martin (AKA Miss Manners).

        She says something to the effect that dates should consist of a) entertainment b) food and c) affection. She said that on a first date, there should be just the slightest hint of affection, but that later on, affection can BE the entertainment. She said, however, to never, ever omit the food part.

        Words to live by.

      1. Oh, wow.

        A sixth grade Valentine’s dance also seems really young.

        We have 7th grade dances at our school and they are VERY awkward.

      2. Sixth grade is when they (or we, by now) start having dances for New York City single sex private school children. Definitely they are awkward, but you only learn by doing.

  24. The thing that I did yesterday that I buried in the comment section here turned out WAY better than I could have imagined. Can’t talk about it at all and not sure where things are going. But just want you guys to know that good things are going on behind the scenes.

    1. The interview? Very cool. Very cool no matter what, I guess – always nice when things turn out way better than you imagine.

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