Re: Guest Post - Aziz Ansari (Weekend Longread)

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Personally, I've always been annoyed by Adam Carolla, but I think the Ansari episode show that #MeToo has good specificity. That is, whatever you think of whether it should have been written about or not, the discussion has shown that people are making a distinction between this and somebody like Spacey. It's a demonstration that this is not a witch hunt.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 8:44 AM
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I also don't like Doctor Drew. They seem, respectively, too leering and too smug.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 8:46 AM
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Adam Carolla is probably super annoying. I'm trying not to gain any current information that makes me update young Heebie's enjoyment of radio talk shows.

Separately: I'm trying to figure out why I hadn't already posted on Ansari. Something about broadening the #metoo conversation to include bad behavior which isn't criminal makes me so, so overwhelmed and exhausted.

I think it's because I truly hadn't thought it was available to be changed - I'd written this category off as not on the table for social progress. Just the scope of the issue, adding it on top of all other issues that I'm already exhausted about - it's a lot.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 8:50 AM
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But I totally agree about Dr. Drew. He was clearly irritating, even back then to dumb young Heebie.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 8:51 AM
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I've also never seen Parks and Recreation so I was really surprised to see how the one action-hero movie guy was playing a pudgy office worker just a few years before.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 8:54 AM
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I havent listened for years but I feel like the smugness factor with both Drew and Carolla increased as the years went on. When it was a pre-internet spot for people to go with questions, with some random nice doctor and weirdo comedian it was one thing, and then they both succumbed to the common temptation of successful people to become exaggerated caricatures of themselves.


Posted by: Eobert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 8:57 AM
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I'm sure this will go pleasantly.

I shan't weigh in on the generational conflict and resentment among women, because I'm not stupid enough to spoil the show a feminist, but I speculate that many of the hottest hot takes (even from the distaff) on the anonymous complainant and her motivations mirror the excuses and table talk that probably drifted around Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose and Trump for decades: "disappointed groupie," "wannabe," "gold-digger," "crazy bitches," etc., etc.

In conclusion, yes, I should very much like a cookie for being a feminist ally or whatever.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 8:58 AM
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Also, perhaps we shouldn't have built so much Gen-X and younger cultural brickwork on the foundation of the moral insight and truth-telling power of standup comedy, but maybe that's just my boredom showing.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 9:01 AM
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I'm so old that I still think of Carolla as the "new" guy on Loveline, replacing Poorman. And I probably haben't listened in 15 years and apparently it is now only a podcast without Dr Drew (or Carolla) at all.


Posted by: RH | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 9:01 AM
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Let me just say that the absence of Anglo-Saxon royalty jokes in 6 was deeply disappointing.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 9:02 AM
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1 is a really good point.

8 is true.

10 is seconded.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 9:12 AM
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Eobert is not a Saxon name. Eadberht Halford will be making the Saxon jokes.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 9:28 AM
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8 What, you think going with pop singers was a better idea?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 9:38 AM
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"Q. What did the thegn say to the other thegn in Hrothgar's hall? A. #meadtoo"


Posted by: Eadberht Halford | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 9:42 AM
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This act may need some work.


Posted by: Eadberht Halford | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 9:43 AM
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I laughed.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 9:47 AM
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NickS, you should read the original piece. It certainly makes the apologists' case a much tougher go.

The counter-apologists' case frequently includes expressions of confidence that nothing, really, is going to happen to the guy as a result of the publication. I find this certainly wrong, although exactly what the consequences are going to be no one knows (and no one is in control).

The Traister excerpt captures the male fear. If we're going to punish every man that ever looked inappropriately at a woman -- more correctly, if we're going to punish every man that a woman thought looked inappropriately at her -- we're going to be punishing a whole lot of people. And that's not going to happen, obviously. It's going to be more selective, but also more random.

There's a theoretical point, yes, when the thing goes 'too far' and generates a real backlash. IMO, this episode with the comedian, like the judge sentencing the monster, isn't it.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 10:00 AM
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14 makes me want to stab somebody. Congratulations.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 10:02 AM
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Also, 17.last is right.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 10:03 AM
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He asked every time and didn't do it if they said no! And no one has a single example of anyone being retaliated against. It's a bit of a weird kink but lumping CK in with Spacey and Weinstein is bullshit.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 10:08 AM
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I don't think they're lumped together at a deep level. Spacey and Weinstein are very likely to face criminal charges. CK doesn't seem to be.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 10:11 AM
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Kevin Drum uses science to determine who gets lumped with whom, at least among the presumably liberal readership of his blog.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 10:33 AM
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NickS, you should read the original piece. It certainly makes the apologists' case a much tougher go.

Okay, I will read it this weekend.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 10:37 AM
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Cont. 17

A point I haven't seen* made in the apologists' apologiae is about the context. "Grace" didn't go for publication immediately after the event. Instead, she was motivated to come forward when she saw the guy publicly supporting the metoo/etc movement, because she wanted to point out that he's a hypocrite.

Maybe he is, maybe he's recklessly clueless (which seems to be his defense) but anyone with a potential problem in their past -- and to hear R Traister explain things, this is going to be a lot of men -- is better off sitting down and shutting up. And changing the subject whenever it's raised.

I'm on record saying that I think the snark about whether someone wants a cookie for doing something decent is counter-productive. This is at another level entirely.


* TBF, my reading has been far from comprehensive.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 10:59 AM
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I thought this article was really helpful in explaining the background of babe dot net and the way the story got presented.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 12:28 PM
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I don't really want to read that because it has "millennial" in the link title. Young people are the worst, excepting people who complain about young people being the worst.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 1:00 PM
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Actual title: "The Aziz Ansari story is a mess, but so are the arguments against it"

I don't think millennial appears in the text.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 2:18 PM
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The actual title sounds reasonable.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 2:22 PM
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25: Thanks, that is interesting context (both on the article itself, and as food for thought about the way in which a class of stories looks different to different demographics)

Way spoke to me briefly about the public interest that motivated the story, citing the mismatch between Ansari's public persona and his alleged private behavior. But for the most part, she described her story as one that would resonate with the young women who read Babe. "We wanted our readers to know what happened to Grace is not okay, and if it happened to you, it's okay if you're upset about it," she says. And she defends the details, both the graphic and the banal. She argues, "our audience primarily consists of women aged 18 to 24. That's the shit they're going to care about... It just makes it more vivid. It just makes it more relatable."

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 2:27 PM
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She argues, "our audience primarily consists of women aged 18 to 24.

Women aged 18 to 24 who make fun of women aged 40 to 50.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 2:33 PM
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Women that age are always mad at my anyway.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 2:46 PM
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my s/b me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 2:48 PM
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The discussion around Aziz Ansari feels like an unfogged topic. I don't know that I have much to add, and I haven't read the original babe.net article, but

why would you ever think it's okay to go on writing about the topic for a page or so after leading off with that?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 3:35 PM
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We're supposed to read shit before talking about it now?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 3:41 PM
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25: That felt like a thinly veiled attempt to put the knife into Babe*. The reporting was apparently "unprofessional" or something, but would the story have been worth ignoring if Grace had written it herself and posted in on facebook or whatever? As it happens, I actually found the original article quite compelling, because the incidental details made it very clear that Grace had been looking forward to the date and Ansari had just assumed it was all a done deal and that's what went wrong. The situation as described really reminded me of a quote from Moira Donegan's "I Wrote the Shitty Media Men List"

In some of these conversations, we spent hours teasing out how these men, many of whom we knew to be intelligent and capable of real kindness, could behave so crudely and cruelly toward us. And this is another toll that sexual harassment can take on women: It can make you spend hours dissecting the psychology of the kind of men who do not think about your interiority much at all.

*Not that there's anything wrong with using a flismy pretext to jump on a personal hobbyhorse. That's the LRB's business model, and I also enjoyed this takedown of Jordan Peterson that was really a realquick explanation of Derrida's philosophy.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 3:58 PM
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25: That felt like a thinly veiled attempt to put the knife into Babe*.

Why so? I read it as saying that babe brought strengths and weaknesses to the story (and also that babe was, in fact, mildly disreputable spun off from a company which did not consistently pay its writers, but didn't argue that undermined the story.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 5:08 PM
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That felt like a thinly veiled attempt to put the knife into Babe*

Said the actress to the archbishop.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 5:41 PM
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Everything about this story makes me feel sad and dispirited and dejected. But I'm mostly out of sync with my fellow liberals when It comes to this sort of thing (I'm still a practicing Catholic, is what I mean, and though way left/liberal on economic issues, I'm still deeply skeptical of the emancipatory potential of a no-rules, no holds barred approach to sexual politics, when it comes to women and to what we might want). Anyway, I don't generally post about this on social media, because.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 7:47 PM
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I think you have to read the article I linked in 25 less charitably than that article describes Babe to read it as a hatchet job. The author is obviously not comfortable with the way the story was presented and I'm sure she would have reported that differently. I read it as a qualified defense of babe aimed at people who either share her view of journalism or who would go even further and endorse not-at-all-veiled hatchet jobs (like Flanagan). I also thought she did a good job of giving the Babe reporter space to defend the story herself, instead of just sprinkling in a few quotes. And I think the ending is clearly a defense of Babe, despite her criticism of it.

That article actually got me to read the whole Babe story, which I'd read some commentary on but hadn't read up until then. Like essear, I'm surprised anyone would comment on it at length without reading it.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 8:13 PM
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I was watching some Parks & Rec recently and it's a whole lot harder for me to find Tom Haverford funny.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 8:13 PM
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39.last (and 33).

I haven't read the story because, on some level, making a precise judgement about how I feel about Ansari feels a little like a violation of privacy (I don't think there's anything ethically wrong with publishing the story or debating Ansari's behavior it just feels a little weird to me). But I have found the larger conversation about sexual behavior interesting and thought provoking and don't think it depends on the exact details of Ansari's behavior.

I will read the article; but that's how I arrived at the OP.

Also, incidentally, 3.last was interesting.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-27-18 10:30 PM
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I think there's a weird thing going on when people are like: Ansari probably didn't commit the criminal offence of rape pursuant to the laws at the time being of the State of New York and it's like, cool, but I'm not a judge, district attorney, or juror in a criminal case in New York? I'm some dude who's asking whether the behaviour outlined is morally acceptable or not and it's really hard to argue that it is.

Eh. I dunno. Basically, fuck Ansari, he's a rich powerful dude who treated a woman badly and who cares if it was legal or not, it was crappy and why shouldn't she have the chance to tell the world about it?


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 3:02 AM
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But I have found the larger conversation about sexual behavior interesting and thought provoking

I guess it's not as if the cultural phenomenon that you find interesting enough to write a lengthy blog post about is in any way about actually listening to what women have to say about their experiences, so fine, you didn't read the article.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 7:38 AM
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42: This seems right to me, and the reaction that her story a violation of Ansari's privacy seems off. I'm not quite clear on how to say this, but there's an expectation of privacy around sexual encounters because the two people involved have mutually agreed to do things they both want to do but that they'd mostly prefer not to have published or discussed with strangers. When the sexual encounter isn't about mutual pleasure, but instead consists of one party treating the other one badly, I don't think the person who behaved badly has any right to expect their behavior to be kept private.

To think Ansari has a reasonable expectation of privacy that's being violated, I think you have to assume that nothing he did was wrong -- that the worst he did was being innocently clueless.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 9:18 AM
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42: I've said this in some other places, but I think what the ansari story highlights is that the conversation around sexual coercion and consent can't and shouldn't start and stop with what is a prosecutable offense.

The latter is a pretty narrow group of actions. The former is a larger conversation about how we want to be as a society that actually values women.


Posted by: Sam | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 10:06 AM
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44 last: I wouldn't say that the invasion of privacy is actionable, but then that's not the standard we're using for any of this.

He behaved poorly. She sent him an email, and he apologized. Months later she sees him visibly supporting her cause and publicly calls him out. She can do that stuff, sure, but that doesn't make it a good idea.

"Rich and powerful" isn't how I would describe a youngish successful comedian of color. Whether he's rich when the dust settles is going to depend on how his audience reacts to this thing, and how well he's managed the money he's made up to now -- if a bunch of it is tied up in some future project that ends up getting cancelled, well, that's how rich celebrities end up not being rich any more. I think the word 'powerful' fits this guy so ill as to be worse than meaningless here. What power does he have?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 10:07 AM
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46: He's on the screens, which is, increasingly, the only power Americans can see (pun intended).


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 10:14 AM
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I agree with 45 completely. I just think that it's imprudent to be casual, or worse, about the collateral damage.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 10:14 AM
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I'm not a judge, district attorney, or juror in a criminal case in New York? I'm some dude who's asking whether the behaviour outlined is morally acceptable or not and it's really hard to argue that it is.

To think Ansari has a reasonable expectation of privacy that's being violated, I think you have to assume that nothing he did was wrong -- that the worst he did was being innocently clueless.

Just to be clear, I mostly agree with both of those. I don't think the article violates a reasonable expectation of privacy (which is what I was trying to get at when I said that I don't think there's anything unethical about it), nor do I think that somebody asking, "whether the behavior outlined is morally acceptable" is doing anything wrong or required to abide my any evidentiary rules.

My own reaction about privacy is just a personal discomfort, not a judgement that I would try to talk others into (and I do think the reaction of discomfort is potentially part of the discussion).

My one hesitation is that I don't think expectations of privacy are completely binary. I can both say that I don't think the story violates other people's obligation to maintain Ansari's privacy, but I would also expect that he could feel like this is exposing events that he would have expect to be private, and that there isn't a contradiction between those two positions.

the conversation around sexual coercion and consent can't and shouldn't start and stop with what is a prosecutable offense.

I agree with that, and I think that's part of what's so interesting about the Ansari story.

why would you ever think it's okay to go on writing about the topic for a page or so after leading off with that?

I guess it's not as if the cultural phenomenon that you find interesting enough to write a lengthy blog post about is in any way about actually listening to what women have to say about their experiences, so fine, you didn't read the article.

Okay, what the heck? You seem pissed, and I'm not entirely sure why. Is it:

1) That the blog post was too long? Would it have been better if I'd just said, "I've been reading a bunch of reactions to the Ansari story, and I'm curious what people here make of it"? Was including the links the problem?

2) That by not reading the article and only reading commentary I am not "listening to what women have to say about their experiences"? Do you think I'm being dismissive of her specific experience and descriptions? Do you think I should have felt an obligation to read the original article at the time I found some of the commentary interesting, or at the moment I was deciding to send in a guest post?

3) That I shouldn't have been the one to write a post on the topic, and that somebody who had read the article should have?

4) That I should have had a better response when questioned about why I hadn't read the article?

I have now read it. I'm happy to talk about it. I agree that it was worth reading.

From a purely selfish perspective I was much happier with CCarp's comment which was, essentially, "you should read it because it worth reading" than your repeated comments of, "you're doing it wrong." Maybe I am doing it wrong, but it felt weirdly hostile.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 10:41 AM
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46: the internet tells me that Ansari has a net worth of ~$20 million. He was a regular on a hit TV show for five or six seasons. He had (still has?) his own Netflix series. Also, he grew up in very comfortable circumstances and has an MBA from NYU. How are you defining rich and powerful?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 10:42 AM
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46: It's not about whether the invasion of privacy is actionable, it's about whether our intuitions about when you have any expectation of privacy at all apply.
I think the expectation of privacy around sex arises from the implicit agreement between the parties that they are choosing to do something private together, and that doesn't seem to me to apply to the Ansari story at all. He behaved the way he did to a bare acquaintance who he hadn't managed to arrive at the sort of mutual agreement with that creates that zone of privacy, and that seems to me to be essentially public behavior.

I can't tell what kind of negative effect this is going to have on his career, and maybe it'll be worse than he deserves. But I don't think he was in any relationship at all with Grace that entitled him to believe she owed him secrecy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 10:44 AM
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Whether he retains "power" and wealth after this is going to depend to a considerable extent on whether his audience concludes that the conduct is really no big deal. Maybe more directly on whether people gambling their own money on him think that his audience is going to conclude that the conduct is no big deal.

We'll all have to wait and see how the conversation turns out. Those of you in his audience can vote with feet, eyeballs, mice, whatever.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 10:48 AM
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Whether he retains "power" and wealth after this is going to depend to a considerable extent on whether his audience concludes that the conduct is really no big deal.

I suppose his power hinges, at least to some extent, on keeping his audience. But his vast wealth is his to do with what he wants. And insofar as he's already fantastically rich, he's going to remain quite powerful--even if Netflix cancels his show and nobody hires him to do another one.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 11:00 AM
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He must have Rob Lowe's phone number if he needs to get help avoiding long-term consequences.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 11:44 AM
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A few things get my back up about this story.
1. This is the internet as hott taek machine at its worst. Far too many of the words written about this are bad faith efforts to get clicks.
2. More ambiguous situations like this one generate more attention than unambiguous ones like Weinstein, Wynn, and thousands of others. This has to do with point 1. You can't write a hot taek about something that is clearly evil.
3. Folks who are closer to our worldview come in for more hostile criticism than those farther away (for another example, see The Left re: Democrats)
4. I have trouble imagining a pathway where the insane level of heat around this one story results in improved behavior by society. People are ingrained to get their back up when attacked. Few people are capable of changing their minds under this kind of pressure.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 12:03 PM
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2. More ambiguous situations like this one generate more attention than unambiguous ones like Weinstein, Wynn, and thousands of others.

This seems true but not a bad thing to me. More borderline cases raise more interesting questions -- there's a possibility of meaningful disagreement in good faith about parts of the Ansari story, where there's not much to say about Weinstein or Wynn other than simple condemnation.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 12:49 PM
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54: I was thinking M.C. Hammer.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 1:31 PM
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I have trouble imagining a pathway where the insane level of heat around this one story results in improved behavior by society. People are ingrained to get their back up when attacked. Few people are capable of changing their minds under this kind of pressure.

I don't think this is true. Sure, it's true for the people who are paying attention and worked up and reading tons of stories. People who have a position just get polarized. But the vast majority of people are unaware or vaguely aware. In which case - depending on the headline that flits briefly across their feed and their opinion of the person sharing it - it might tug their behavior incrementally in a better direction. Who knows - I'm really just contesting the idea that most people are polarized on Ansari.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 1:35 PM
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36 & 39: Sorry for not getting back to this sooner, but yeah, the Verge piece is a huge piece of concern trolling and is an attack on the publication and the story (to be 100% clear: I'd never heard of Babe before this story; I've seen v little or nothing of Ansari's work; Babe probably is a fair target of criticism, but that's irrelevant to the story; I think the messenger is being shot; I don't think the Verge piece is very useful or written in good faith).

Headline: "The Aziz Ansari story is a mess, but so are the arguments against it". Setting aside the wonky syntax, from the headline onwards, we're begging the question that the story was poorly or inappropriately reported.

First and second graphs introduce the story, describing the platform as obscure and the story as informally reported (both true, although it shortly becomes clear that "informal reporting" is not desirable), then characterising the style of reporting as "bizarre", and picking out details considered irrelevant (they weren't, and it's probably worth reading the original story to be clear on this).

Third paragraph contains three fair criticisms: the use of the word "girl" to describe Grace, and a couple of ways that Babe chose to promote the story when it blew up.

Paragraphs 4-6: Babe/The Tab is sketchy and doesn't fairly compensate their writers. Kind of interesting, probably true, but what's the relevance to the story?

Paragraph 7: Sexual reporting does require expertise. This is the keystone of the argument. Essentially: "we are the gatekeepers and when other people break stories, that's wrong and should be discouraged." I want to come back to this later.

Paragraphs 8 and 9: Babe has been soliciting stories for sexual assault survivors, and this is wrong and tabloid, rather than say 1) actually what journalists are supposed to do - actively research stories - rather than sitting obediently to have a story balanced on their fucking nose by a PR firm or an insider briefing anonymously... or, for that matter, 2) amplifying the voices of women.

Paragraphs 9 - 14: Babe staff (especially the writer of the original piece) given the opportunity to defend the tone of the story and supply some details on their fact-checking and legal process. As it happens, I'm strongly in agreement with their arguments, but it's clear from the earlier and subsequent tone policing that the author sees them as hoisting themselves by their own petard or something (there's a lot of hilarious sniffiness around the writer's use of swearwords. "A journalist? Who swears?? [faints away]).

Paragraph 15: Babe's reporters and editors may have done their due diligence legally, but in packaging Grace's story the way they did -- thinking about it in terms of what makes for appealing storytelling, not airtight journalism -- they wandered away from many of their obligations to their source, their readers, and the public. No hemming and hawing - this is the central argument of the piece, stated unequivocally.

Paragraph 16: To be fair... followed by the point that to me, undermines this entire article. Who gives the slightest shit whether the "right" outlets are reporting this, or whether it's being stuck on social media, or circulated as a google doc? No serious attempt to address this idea, which is exactly the point. Fewer gatekeepers and more voices are both trends to be encouraged in this instance.

Paragraphs 17 - 19: "Whoops, just remembered that this is supposed to be even-handed!" Hilarious part criticising the NYT etc for doing exactly what the piece itself has being doing up to this point. Very meta! Or possibly just a very deeply buried lede? Who knows!

I found the humour and storytelling aspects extremely powerful. I don't think the story is flawed in anything close to a Rolling Stone gang rape sense, I think it's probably an accurate reporting of events (the author of the Verge piece as much as as admits this) and I think, whatever was in the hearts of the Babe editorial team when they published this ("monitising sexual assault for clicks, ahahaha, we'll be rich, rich I tell you!!" or "this is a story that deserves to be heard after Ansari's rank badge-based hypocracy" or somewhere in between or both or who cares) that it is a really important story in a cultural sense - for reasons that other commentators have set out well.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 1:43 PM
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Golly that was a long comment


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 1:44 PM
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59: Thanks for replying in datail, though I'm going to have to go with the "I didn't expect to get into this in so much detail and won't go paragraph by paragraph myself" move.

I do have a better understanding of why you think the piece is so terrible and I don't even completely disagree with all of it, but I don't think your reading of paragraphs 8-14 is fair, and I don't think the author is just pretending to be even-handed. And I don't think the story is question begging at the outset, it's a reply to people who are saying to just dismiss the whole thing because of where it appeared.

I don't think she's just making up criticisms so that she can launder her own criticisms through criticizing the criticisms, though I do recognize that that's a real thing.* I suppose I would have to look up the author and see how she usually reports things and I'm not that invested in this meta story about a meta story.

*If she were doing this, I'd think she'd want to temper her own obvious critical view of the original story because it makes it so easy to just discount everything she says. But I guess the other way of reading it if you think it's just concern trolling is that it's not good concern trolling. Given I pretty much agree with your view of the Babe article is not of the Verge article, it certainly failed to concern troll me out thinking the Babe story was out of the bounds of "proper" journalism or whatever.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 2:17 PM
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49.last: I'm sorry I seemed 'weirdly hostile,' I was aiming for 'openly hostile for clearly stated reasons.' I'll try harder next time.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 2:53 PM
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I wouldn't say there's an expectation of privacy in the Ansari case, but I feel like the story isn't the same kind of thing as the #metoo phenomenon, as there's a difference between being well-known and wealthy and in a supervisory/work power dynamic. (Maybe it weighs too much with me that she confronted him, and he apologized. )


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 3:21 PM
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That, definitely. Nothing he did was anything that could reasonably be prosecuted, and nothing was using any kind of leverage over her professional life. That last is a seriously important distinction, and it makes this story much less of a big deal than if it had happened in any work context.

The apology, I don't really put any weight on at all, given that his current position is that he didn't do anything wrong. That makes it seem as if his initial apology was bullshitting her, rather than meaningfully accepting that he'd acted badly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 3:29 PM
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61: thanks in turn for the response - while I'm still really sure that I'm right, as always, I take your point and it's clear that there are valid readings that differ from mine.

I think I'm more invested in the Ansari story than in the more obviously evil stuff that's come out during #metoo because while the revelations about Weinstein, Louis CK et al were genuinely shocking, I don't think I've ever been aware of a situation of a similar magnitude in any institution that I've been a part of (I'm not saying that serial sexual harassment and abuse couldn't have happened, just that if it did, I was oblivious).

But the Ansari story did hit home. It did make me think about the behaviour of friends of mine who, like Ansari, are attractive and charming, but maybe abuse their charisma and/or looks to treat women as notches on a bedpost. I grew up in the lads mag generation, and I have plenty of friends (both male and female) who, for want of a better expression, like to sleep around. It's never been something that I'm uncomfortable with - however, this story has been a big factor in changing my mental taxonomy of what's completely fine, and what might be unhealthy or harmful behaviour that should be pushed back on.

I'm really pleased that my kid will be growing up in an era where these conversations about consent and boundaries are both A) happening in the first place and B) nuanced.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 5:43 PM
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62: You have a point, I suppose, but the hostility certainly seems wildly disproportionate.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 6:13 PM
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while I'm still really sure that I'm right

I think "I'm right" is something we both can agree on.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 6:27 PM
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This #metoo performance by Kesha is really moving.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 7:40 PM
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66: just for the sake of balance, no, it really doesn't seem that way at all. I'm only speaking up, by the way, because when two adults are arguing, piling on one side or the other doesn't actually do much to improve matters.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 8:09 PM
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I didn't thinks essear's response was disproportionate or all that confusing. What on Earth would possess you to write up a long post on this issue without reading the original piece? In the best case, you're Tom from Metropolitan ("I don't read novels. I prefer good literary criticism."); in the worst case, you're recycling bullshit.

64.last: Did I miss a statement where Ansari walked back his apology? The statement I saw seemed consistent with his private position: this was all a big mixup and I'm sorry I made you feel bad.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 8:11 PM
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Unless I'm reading that wrong, he's saying that he's sorry she didn't enjoy herself, but he had no way of knowing during the evening that anything was wrong, and he did nothing wrong. That's not much of an apology, and it's certainly not an admission of wrongdoing.

Remember, if we're taking her story as accurate, at one point she hid from him in the bathroom for a while, and came out saying "Don't make me feel forced or I'll hate you." And then a while after that he grabbed her and humped her from behind. A social interaction where someone tells you that you're risking making them hate you has gone very, very badly by any normal standards, which means that Ansari's apology, saying that he had no way of knowing anything was wrong at the time, seems like disingenuous bullshit.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 8:34 PM
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I didn't thinks essear's response was disproportionate or all that confusing. What on Earth would possess you to write up a long post on this issue without reading the original piece?

Fair enough. It seems disproportionate to me, of course, but I appreciate knowing that it struck multiple people as being actively annoying.

I don't know that there's much point in trying to explain except that I'd invoke the old quote about, "if I had more time I would have written a shorter post." It was something I'd been sitting on and mulling over for a while and eventually decided to just sent it in (that this is different that my first answer is because "what would possess you to . . ." is a different question than, "why would you ever think it's okay . . .").

I concede laziness. I don't think it was bullshit, but, having now read the original essay, I agree that it's worth reading as part of this discussion. So I think it's totally appropriate to tell me to go read it. I still think the pieces that I linked are interested and worth reading as well, but that may be irrelevant.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 8:37 PM
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I don't want this "reading articles" thing to set a precedent. I think the mistake was to read the whole take-down piece without reading the Babe piece. Writing a post without reading either would have been fine.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 8:45 PM
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I bet that Metropolitan guy actually read novels but didn't want to admit it.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 8:49 PM
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Which takedown piece? The only negative piece that I referenced was the Bunch essay which was brief and (in my head) only there to bring in the Traister reference.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 8:51 PM
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From a single comment by one of the people here who pay attention to things, a skilled logician can infer an entire article.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 8:52 PM
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75: I don't know. I didn't read the OP or the comments either. They were really long and contained, at first glance, no wizards.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 8:53 PM
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I'm basing my opinion off the the headline of a Caitlin Flanagan article criticizing the article about Ansari and my prior annoyance at Caitlin Flanagan.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 8:55 PM
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Those are good priors.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 8:57 PM
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"If Caitlin Flanagan is for it, I'm against it" is about as surefire a heuristic is one could hope to find, isn't it?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 9:00 PM
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I guess you could sub in Donald Rumsfeld.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 9:01 PM
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Hitler loved dogs.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 9:01 PM
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I bet Rumsfeld has a nuanced take on shoving alcohol-soaked tampons up your butt to get drunk.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 9:03 PM
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It probably wasn't even her that wrote the butt chugging article, because the universe is never that predictable.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 9:16 PM
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As it happens, that's a known known.


Posted by: Opinionated Rumsfeld | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 9:16 PM
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I'm going to wait until I'm at work to Google "Rumsfeld butt.chugging". I think the IT people need some interest in their lives.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 9:18 PM
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11 things that seem tragically wrong -- maybe affirmatively evil -- to me:

1. What Aziz Ansari did.

2. The fact that things similar to what Ansari did aren't publically discussed but are accepted more or less as a hidden burden of (mostly) women.

3. Despite 1 and 2, going public with a news story about Ansari after asking for and receiving a private apology.

4. The fact that people, primarily women, are instrumentalized for sex in a way that is painful.

5. The fact that people have their private lives, however painful, instrumentalized and turned into the internet conversation topic of the week for bored people looking for an intellectually "intriguing" issue.

6. Caitlan Flanagan's entire goddamn career.

7. Websites that have a business model of not paying theor authors and creating viral memes.

8. People who don't read articles before wanting to talk about them.

9. People who want to trash other people for not reading articles in a fit of self-righteousness without thinking of the other person or the nature of the conversation.

10. The idea that casual sex is somehow ever not going to be (not just this but also always) a minefield of mismatched understandings, intense emotional pain, treachery and mind games, and emotional exploitation to gratify not lust, but, far more importantly and painfully, ego -- and that there's some casual sex universe in which this magically won't be true.

11. The fact that I feel compelled to write about this at all. More generally, myself.

Basically everyone should shut the fuck up, treat the people around them well, and repent of their sins, starting with me. We're all awful people, every one of us, and that should be the first thought in the morning and the last at night, the end. Only Mary Catherine gets it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 10:41 PM
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Sorry, Halford, Church of Satan, born and bred ("Do not make sexual advances unless you are given the mating signal").

Regarding the apology, it seems to me there are three possibilities:

1) He's lying and he's a scumbag.

2) He's telling the truth and he's oblivious to the point of negligence.

3) He's telling the truth and she's shaded the story (not necessarily maliciously) to omit whatever ambiguity he perceived. (This would have to involve her not literally saying, "Don't make me feel forced...," since that sort of blows away any argument for enthusiastic consent.)

I think if (1) were the case, we'd already be hearing more stories about it. I'm sort of stuck between (2) and (3). The story makes him sound bad at sex in a very specific way that's consistent with him misreading her signals. (It's also consistent with him being a dehumanizing shithead, granted.)


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 01-28-18 11:41 PM
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I find myself on team Halford 87.10 and JPJ. But that may be because I have had very little casual sex in my life and if only I had done more ... nah, fuckit. There are some people maybe who can manage it but I am not one of them and I think that the secret premise of casual sex is that both parties will come away from the encounters with their egos burnished and -- ego being what it is -- I don't think that can happen without some corresponding tarnishing and rust to someone else's. Or, as Gore Vidal might say: it is not enough to have great sex,. Someone else must have lousy and humiliating sex.

Where is the great misanthrope of Minnesota now we need him? Emerson, your country need you.


Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 12:14 AM
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And I'm not going to read any of these fucking articles because I once read a graphic account of a fairly consensual sexual encounter with Quentin Tarantino and I don't want to know that sort of thing about anyone.


Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 12:16 AM
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In her defense, Caitlin Flanagan only gets paid for her horrifying opinions. She may have perfectly fine opinions on puppies or the Beatles. Is that a defense? It's okay to do terrible things for money, right?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 1:35 AM
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I think if MeToo ends up going too far, it will be with sentiments like 87 and 89. Already execrescences like Matt Walsh have tweeted that MeToo proves that Pence was right to never be with a woman unchaperoned. Saying that casual sex is impossible because men can't be trusted is a tool for reaction, not progress. And it's not true. Men are literally capable of understanding the words "Don't make me feel forced". It's not a biological impossibility or anything.

Casual sex with a celebrity seems likely to be a bad idea, since there's no way you're not the millionth anonymous person to pass through their bedroom and there is no way they give a shit about you in any way other than as an outlet.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:12 AM
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Because they've been in the public eye for years, you have a better chance that they aren't a serial killer.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 5:10 AM
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Agreed. 89 in particular seems odd; asserting that it is absolutely impossible to have casual sex without at least one person being harmed by it? what the hell nw.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 5:18 AM
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So you're saying a smart serial killer should try to become a celebrity?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 5:21 AM
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Well, as the last couple of years have shown, when you're famous they let you do it. You can do anything.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 5:24 AM
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A couple of thoughts in response to 88: I'm not sure what to do with #3 -- the possibility that Grace's story is untrue in detail, and that she didn't actually communicate how unhappy she was with his behavior in the clear, unambiguous words she said she used. It's possible, memory is unreliable and people shade stories to make themselves look better. And at that point it's possibly all a misunderstanding and Ansari didn't do anything wrong, and if that's the case, his apology (which comes out to "although I did nothing wrong and do not admit to identifying anything about the evening that I would do differently in future, it is a shame that you are unhappy about it") is fine -- that's all anyone owes anyone else for an innocent misunderstanding.

If her story is accurate at the level of how explicitly verbally clear she was, though, I'm not seeing a meaningful moral difference between your #1 and #2. Someone who's capable of listening to a possible casual sex partner beg him not to make her feel like she's being forced into sex, and keep on grabbing her and badgering her anyway, even if he thinks that just how casual sex works and he's kind of surprised that she didn't enjoy the evening? Is still a terrible person even if he genuinely thinks it's a shame that he's unhappy, and his apology ("I'm sorry you didn't like it when I grabbed you and humped you after you pleaded with me not to force you into sex, but my behavior was normal and I had no way of knowing you get sad about normal sex") is worthless trash.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 6:25 AM
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The other thing I've been thinking generally about pushback to Grace's story is how much of it edits her clear words out. Flanagan, and the NY Times oped, and I was arguing about this in comments at 11D last week -- all defending Ansari on the grounds that he's not a mind reader and can't have been expected to understand her non-verbal signals. And her story included talking about her non-verbal signals, but also included her saying things in clear English asking him to stop what he was doing, which he ignored.

I'm not sure what Ansari's defenders are thinking -- whether there's an unspoken assumption that she's lying, or whether they think of the words she said as something that a decent person could hear and then keep groping and badgering the speaker for sex.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 6:41 AM
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Insular chatroom/salon of legendary wit as confronts Ansari situation as interpreted by SNL.

(I found the concept and setup to be pretty good but it wasn't that good after the initial reaction to the mention of Ansari.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 6:42 AM
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I think that some people expect #MeToo to go too far and will see it regardless of events. I mean, it probably will if it goes on for long enough. Everything fucks up if it lasts long enough, but so far I haven't seen any big issues.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 6:43 AM
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Given that there's no #MeToo central committee to decide what is both significant and accurate, just various journalists working separately, and that journalists are mostly both overworked and assholes, I was worried the movement would get derailed by stunts like O'Keefe did, except done by people less stupid.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 6:48 AM
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re: 98.1

I think that's right. I haven't read everything written about this particular case, but I've read enough that when doing a bit of soul-searching -- have I ever been guilty of this?* -- it's pretty clear to me that while this case might not like Weinstein or others, it's still not really that ambiguous. I also think that the fact that she specifically asked for an apology at the time, and was clear about the ways in which she felt he'd been in the wrong, is pretty powerful, too.

* I don't think I have, but one of the powerful things about this is that it makes people interrogate their own past actions and behaviour, and think: where have I been less than perfect?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 6:49 AM
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Yeah, there was a super weak one aimed at Chuck Schumer, I think? But it faded immediately on his crying bullshit.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 6:50 AM
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If it really were a witch hunt following the classic pattern, you'd see attacks on weaker men less able to defend themselves. I think that's the fear the backlash is tapping into. That somebody who can't afford a lawyer and a PR team will wind up pushed out of his job by an a vengeful ex (or an honest ex, depending on who is being urged to be afraid of a witch hunt).


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 6:57 AM
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his crying bullshit.

For a confused minute I thought you were somehow linking this to the Trump nickname thing.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 6:58 AM
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I'm thinking of developing a whole theory of politics based on the resentment and fears of middle aged, divorced but not remarried white guys. I don't think they were sufficient for Trump, but I think they were necessary.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 6:58 AM
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I think that some people expect #MeToo to go too far and will see it regardless of events. I mean, it probably will if it goes on for long enough. Everything fucks up if it lasts long enough, but so far I haven't seen any big issues.

I definitely thought Al Franken was the beginning of it being weaponized against Democratic politicians, but that hasn't happened on the national level. It is happening in state legislatures but none of that is in the national news.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 7:06 AM
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98: It's shocking how the critics all elided the most damning part (the "I don't want to feel forced" part).


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 7:45 AM
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48: 48
I agree with 45 completely. I just think that it's imprudent to be casual, or worse, about the collateral damage.

Taken totally out of context, this is probably the sentence I'd last expect from Carp ever.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 7:51 AM
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108: Yeah. Up until then it was possible to generously argue that this was a case of badly misread signals. That sentence ought to hit anyone like the coldest cold shower ever.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 7:53 AM
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I had some kool-aid with lunch yesterday, and dammit that Miller fellow is starting to make sense.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 7:57 AM
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Kool Aid and Tom Osborn were both created in Hastings, Nebraska.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 8:12 AM
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Also, one of my cousins had a respectable run as a high school coach there.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 8:12 AM
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Anyway, my point is that everybody knows lots of people from Hastings.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 8:19 AM
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Time was, "respectable run as a high school coach" wasn't a double entendre.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 8:23 AM
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I feel like I'm on another planet with this, how does what she describes happened to her not unambiguously a case of sexual assault?


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 9:06 AM
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Are you in contact with a Mind?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 9:13 AM
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I'm also a bit confused about the pushback on the casual sex thing, although I'm sure its context dependent. When I was younger and less married and more sultry, I spent more time in places that had a high turnover and large populations of short- to medium-term expats, and those places weren't conducive to committed relationships. I guess maybe everyone was wracked with guilt over their sinfulness, or would have secretly been happier abstaining, but it wasn't obvious. I mean, I saw plenty of shitty behaviour (mostly expats taking advantage of locals with different expectations) but I don't think anyone came away spiritually soiled by all the fucking qua fucking.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 10:17 AM
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How many became serial killers?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 10:19 AM
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(Also the "sex as a zero sum game" thing is definitely a case of Gore Vidal doing it wrong.)


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 10:22 AM
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119: Five. Six, tops


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 10:24 AM
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120: I had similar issues with the lyrics to "Hit Me with Your Best Shot."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 10:26 AM
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120: Vidal wasn't talking about sex, just about life in general:

"It is not enough merely to win; others must lose."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 10:29 AM
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I have no idea what spiritually spoiled means but you aren't going to have casual sex (which may have its good sides! I don't give a shit about the sex qua sex) without at least some significant component of bad behavior and ambiguous broken feelings and ego projection, and the idea that you're going to solve the problem through better contracting is a a consumerist liberal (in the real sense) childish shibboleth that contradicts most of what we know about human behavior. Which isn't to say people shouldn't be more communicative, contract better, or whatever, people can indeed make the downsides marginally better so people should do that. Aziz was an unacceptable asshole on any scale of casual sex, but let's be serious.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 10:30 AM
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123: Ah, thanks!

124: Can you elaborate a bit on why the bad behaviour, ambiguous broken feelings and ego projection are necessary? Honest question.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 10:36 AM
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125.2: It's probably just the case that, as with many other things, some people are good at casual sex and many others aren't. No need for inevitable ambiguous broken feelings & etc. if the people involved happen to have the knack for it, but that often won't be the case.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 10:42 AM
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116 -- IANAP, but one would have to consider the likelihood that some members of a jury of ordinary New Yorkers could be convinced by a professional actor that he honestly, though mistakenly, thought 'I don't want to feel forced, because then I'd hate you' meant 'change your approach to something more encouraging, and less aggressive, and maybe I'll have sex with you' rather than 'I don't want to have sex period, stop asking.'

Criminal liability depends on his state of mind, way more than hers, and the benefit of the doubt goes to him.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 10:51 AM
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126 is where I am at, but I'd add to it that in an environment where the tone is set by the people who are good at casual sex (ie manage it without emotional damage and in fact with good healthy feelings of pleasure and egoboo) the general expectation that this is how you *ought* to be will damage those -- I contend the majority -- who aren't and who find themselves contorted into a pattern which doesn't fit them. But I have to catch a train


Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 10:54 AM
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125 - don't know how to sum it up, it's a context where people are largely using one another for a combination of ego enhancement and sexual gratification, where emotional binds form in odd, ambiguous and unexpected ways, and people have shifting, self-deceptive and not very self-conscious senses of what people want from themselves and from others. Honestly this seems like just a totally banal observation. Put more stupidly, a society in which people are onsistently using one another sexually for ego gratification is likely, on net, to leave many of those people feeling used. Which isn't necessarily the worst thing in the world -- there are definitely worse things -- but ignoring it feels like willful blindness.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 10:56 AM
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That's about right. As a human being, I don't believe he was genuinely confused about how she felt and what she wanted, but as a juror I'd have a hard time getting to 'beyond a reasonable doubt' that she didn't in some sense consent to what he actually did to her. On a preponderance of the evidence standard, I think he meets the standard for some lower-level sexual assault crimes (I look them up for discussions like this every so often and then forget the details), but getting to beyond a reasonable doubt that he wasn't confused seems impractical for a prosecution.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 10:56 AM
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130 to 127.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 10:58 AM
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I agree with 129 and casual sex pessimists generally, but still think casual sex has a better chance of working out ok than a long-term relationship.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 11:13 AM
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Working out badly on a slower time frame gives people more time to adjust. Or to suffer. Whichever.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 11:14 AM
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133: Exactly. Most frequently to adjust to what becomes an acceptable level of suffering.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 11:22 AM
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129 (and 128): Thanks - that's a useful perspective. Although I think I fundamentally disagree on the idea that people are by necessity "using" and "being used", in the sense that we employ "use" when we talk about other human beings. I came perilously close to violating the analogy ban (and with a pretty feeble analogy at that) - suffice to say that, although sex is more of an emotional minefield than other human activities done in pairs, there are plenty of situations where we wouldn't start talking about people using one another because they both wanted to do something enjoyable together only once, or infrequently, with no longer-term commitment.

I also think that the point about how most people aren't good at casual sex and so the majority of people in casual-sex-positive places will be unhappy isn't quite right, for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, (to pick on my own phrasing this time) because I should really have said something like "considerably more conducive to casual sex than we think of as typical", because of course monogamy (or abstinence) isn't precluded. In fact, I met my wife in one of the places that I had in mind.

Secondly, because it ignores the effects of self-selection. If we grant the idea that there are certain social contexts (places, demographics, etc) better suited to regular monogamy, and others better suited to casual sex, individuals will tend to gravitate to contexts where they are comfortable, or the contexts will change over time. If the majority of people (to use a fairly stupid example) at an Ibiza nightclub would prefer to meet someone serious and settle down, what's stopping the social expectation from changing? Turn the music down, put some table and chairs in their, maybe serve some food? If anything, the risk is to the minority - the friend who has been dragged along and feels the need to prove him or herself by doing something they don't really want to. But all that shows is that it's possible to have miserable casual sex - not that it's obligatory, or even likely for a majority of people.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 11:24 AM
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it being weaponized against Democratic politicians, but that hasn't happened on the national level

The midterm campaign hasn't really cranked up yet.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 11:40 AM
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The movie "Casual Sex," IIRC, ends with the lead character married to Andrew Dice Clay, a fitting and prophetic warning.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 11:45 AM
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Put more stupidly, a society in which people are onsistently using one another sexually for ego gratification is likely, on net, to leave many of those people feeling used.

This might be the most interesting part of "Cat Person", about the woman's ego-gratifying fantasies about how incredibly beautiful and youthful she must appear in the eyes of the fat slob she decided to hook up with.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 11:48 AM
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I have to admit I'm confused about the ego gratification piece. Just that it feels good to be desired by someone who's also desirable?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 11:49 AM
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That was about sex? I didn't read it because I don't much care for cats.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 11:50 AM
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The midterm campaign hasn't really cranked up yet.

What worries me about the possibility for ratfucking is the extent to which 'believe women' gets treated as an unquestionable shibboleth. I mean, yes, 'believe women' to be generally reasonable human beings who don't make up accusations of crime or harassment without some proportionate motivation. But fucking with an election is plausibly going to be a proportionate motivation for some women to be involved in totally fictional accusations against politicians.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 11:52 AM
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Most people are "generally reasonable human beings", but the minority outside that circle still contains a whopping lot of (disproportionately Republican) people.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 11:57 AM
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The Washington Post has a headline titled "Why Are Americans Having Such Bad Sex?" I'm afraid to click on it in case it's just a finger pointing at me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 11:59 AM
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To spin that out a little more, I think people even on the left have to take the position that a defense of "Wait, what? No, no recognizable version of that accusation ever happened" is not wrongful unless the weight of the evidence shows it to be false. That already happened with the nonsense Schumer allegation that faded immediately when he denied it, but I want people to think about it consciously ahead of time.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 12:00 PM
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"Why Are Americans Having Such Bad Sex?"

Because of think pieces in the Washington Post.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 12:01 PM
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142: Well, right, exactly. I believe the Ansari story is pretty accurate because (1) he hasn't denied anything specific about it, and (2) I don't see any reasonable motivation for her to be out to get him unless he did behave very badly toward her -- absent that, why would she? But fixing an election is a big enough motivation to get a reasonable but shitty person to say a lot of things that aren't true.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 12:03 PM
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Or maybe the impetus to get rid of people accused of sexual harrassment will have faded by the time the midterms heat up, unfortunately. Those stories about Chris Matthews sound like the stories about Garrison Keillor if not worse, and nobody seems to care about him. Maybe it's a case of "he's an asshole to everyone, not just women".

I hope someone is tracking how these things are running their course in the state legislatures. It seems like all of them are going through a period of multiple women telling horror stories, though not all have been attached to accusations against specific members. Can it be that the awareness of sexual harassment over the last 30 years has meant that these guys now stay on their local patch, and don't go to Washington because the spotlight would lead to scandals?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 12:12 PM
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Re my comment above, wasn't meant to be according to any legal standard beyond a reasonable doubt but what I believe I would have felt had I been present for the events described. I mean she locked herself in the bathroom and pleaded not to be forced. This far far far beyond bad, awkward, fumbling sex. It looks like assault to me.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 12:12 PM
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I think he definitely (assuming the story is as told) touched her sexually in ways she didn't consent to, such that if the facts were undisputed as she told them it'd be criminal (probably a misdemeanor in NY state, but I'd have to pore through the penal code a bit to be sure.) But yeah, it seems like a combination of his having a very tightly constrained sense of what was good enough to count as consent (remaining where he had the power to physically touch her, and not screaming seems to be what he was relying on) for any sexual activity short of penetration.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 12:22 PM
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I think both 148 and 149 substantially overstate the matter. That's a problem if, but only if, the end result of this episode is that society in general concludes that what Ansari did is basically ok. Because we certainly wouldn't want the versions you two are putting out to be considered ok.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 12:49 PM
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And going all the way back to the link in 22, that's the trajectory we seem to be on.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 12:51 PM
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If a man grabbed a woman on the street and rubbed his penis against her ass through her clothes for sexual gratification as far as I can tell, I think it's noncontroversial that that would be a form of criminal sexual assault (obviously, at a level less than rape). When Ansari did that to Grace, the only legal difference is whether she consented to it, right? Taking the story as told, it appears to me that she didn't consent, and that she communicated clearly enough that she didn't consent that he was aware of her non-consent (this is the point I'd get stuck on in terms of successfully prosecuting beyond a reasonable doubt, but it seems likely to me.) The act is criminal and he has mens rea.

Where am I breaking down? Rubbing his genitals against her ass without consent isn't a form of assault, or the story as told establishes that she consented to it?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 1:01 PM
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Further to 151, in the survey linked in 22, more than half of respondents rated this a 1 or 2 on a scale of 10, while under 5% cumulatively called it either a 6, 7, 8. 9. or 10.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 1:05 PM
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I mean why the fuck would anyone want to do that to* a woman unless their primary means of gratification here was the forced assault aspect of the encounter, i.e. they get off on the power aspect and forcing her into it.

*There ain't no "with' there.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 1:07 PM
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He says he was unaware of her non-consent, given the whole context. You don't believe him. Lots of people seem to.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 1:10 PM
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Rubbing his genitals against her ass without consent isn't a form of assault, or the story as told establishes that she consented to it?

The story isn't complete. It's possible that at moments in the evening she did say, "yes I'm having a good time", "yes I want to be here" or something like that. I don't think that would establish consent. As the first link in the OP quotes, "Dale Smith [on] Twitter, 'if you're getting mixed messages that means that some of the messages you're getting are telling you to stop'."

But, in terms of legal liability, there may be complicating details which are not present in "the story as told." That said, my reaction is the same as 154.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 1:11 PM
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Which is really just to say that the legal standards and ethical standards are not the same (and I would hope that LB is correct that, at least, misdemeanor charges could be brought based on the story as told -- even if it's unlikely that charges will be brought).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 1:15 PM
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153: Does that mean more than that yes, there's a lot of low-level sexual assault that people wave off?

I've had a really easy time, personally, on this stuff. But for an example from my life, Rosh Hashanah dinner at a friend's house two years ago, another friend of theirs was there. He got super drunk (for reasons relating to huge personal drama in his family, leaving him in kind of a manic state), and while I was getting some napkins out of a drawer reached under my skirt and grabbed my ass/vulva hard. And I jerked away, and he walked off, and I didn't do anything more about it because I don't have to deal with him regularly, and the huge other drama actually happening was a much bigger deal.

But you know what? Still sexual assault, still criminal (misdemeanor level, but that's still criminal). Just because it wasn't a major life-altering trauma, or much of a trauma at all, and just because I waved it off, doesn't make it not an assault.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 1:15 PM
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155 Yeah I don't because I think/know/hope I would have twigged at her language about feeling forced and locking herself in the bathroom. I mean, ugh. At the very least.

Sorry it's been a very weird and rough week at work and I'm now very fuckiing drunk so i'm going to check out of this for now because I love you all, or most of you (including you CC).


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 1:15 PM
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159 to 155. Out.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 1:17 PM
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158: That still sounds awful.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 1:17 PM
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159.last Jeez I hope that was clear, I mean I love you to CC, if that wasn't clear. World is a fuck.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 1:19 PM
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155, 156: That's quibbling about his state of mind, and everyone's agreed that it'd be hopeless trying to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that he understood her not to be consenting to be sexually touched by him.

But can we agree that in the counterfactual world where a reasonable man could be expected to understand "Don't make me feel forced or I'll hate you, and I don't want to hate you" to indicate a state of non-consent to sexual touching that would require some actively affirmative consent to override, and in the world where, as in the story Grace told, she did not actively indicate that she consented to having him rub his genitals against her after she said that, that what he did would be a form of sexual assault?

(That counterfactual world where a reasonable man could be expected to understand "Don't make me feel forced or I'll hate you, and I don't want to hate you" to indicate a state of non-consent to sexual touching? Sounds like a lovely one. I'd like to live there.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 1:20 PM
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158.2 Holy shit. So sorry.

OK, really now: out.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 1:20 PM
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Back at you, Barry. Take care.

163 last -- Comity.

158.2 Ugh.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 1:24 PM
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158 really, really wasn't any kind of traumatic big deal. That was my point, that there's behavior that's a form of sexual assault that people will generally wave off as NBD. (And it really was the worst thing that's happened to me along those lines in forever. I've had it super easy with this stuff.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 1:25 PM
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165.2: But we're still not in agreement about 163.2? Pity.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 1:26 PM
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A different story, with greater wealth and power: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-china-responds-to-steve-wynn-allegations-2018-1


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 1:27 PM
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You assholes made me actually read rather than skim the Babe.com story. Before you start microlitigating it, someone is going to have to put together a detailed chronology because the story as written is extraordinarily confusing. For one thing they seem to indulge in a lot of oral sex (both parties), then stop without reaching orgasm for some reason, then maybe stop and hang out (clothes on? Off?) and then do something else? Who knows. All of which is highly significant for the microlitigation.

Personally I think there couldn't be a bigger waste of time, morally, psychologically, whatever than microlitigation of an incident like this for free, but if you are gonna microlitigate at all somebody better take on the task of what is supposed to have happened and when.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 1:27 PM
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You should infer non-consent to 163.2 from my failure to specifically call it out.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 1:29 PM
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should NOT!

Jesus!


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 1:29 PM
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Inference withdrawn, meaning-reversing typo cracked up over.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 1:31 PM
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For one thing they seem to indulge in a lot of oral sex (both parties), then stop without reaching orgasm for some reason

Dry cleaning?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 1:31 PM
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169: I'm not quite sure what seems so confusing to you. As a structure to make sense of it, it looks to me as if she went back to his place intending to engage in some friendly, pleasant casual sexual activity, possibly intended to include intercourse, possibly not. And then he freaked her out by how he behaved around the initial oral sex, and she told him she didn't want to have intercourse that night (I think she says "Maybe next time"). And then the rest of the story is him groping her and badgering her (including badgering her into some more oral sex that was probably 'consensual' in the technical legal sense) while she remained freaked out and communicated her unhappiness and non-consent both verbally and nonverbally, until she ultimately gave up on bringing the evening back on track as the mutually pleasurable event she thought it was going to be and left.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 1:50 PM
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158: Ugh. Very sorry to hear this.

And yes, I think that there probably is a lot of waved-off sexual assault. I'd guess quite a lot of the totally unprompted grabbing that you experienced, and even more Ansari-style "crossing the threshold of my apartment after a date is tantamount to consent" situations.

As you say, very difficult to prove in a court, and many victims only start to consider their horrified reaction justified hours, or days, or years later.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 1:53 PM
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That's not how it's described in the piece at all. I mean, the implication of groping and badgering is there -- that is the point of the account! -- but the detailed account of what happened when and what was objected to or done when is incredibly unclear, and those are the facts you need to establish if you're going to claim it was assault or ascribe culpability based on a notion of assault or assault-like behavior. Maybe it was assault! But again someone needs to spell out exactly what is claimed to have happened and when. As written it's largely (because of unclear chronology) a miasma -- clearly bad sex that she was unhappy with, clear that an an objection is made at some point, but not much more than that, without some clearer sense of what happened and when Microlitigating is dumb but it's equally dumb to draw strong conclusions about specifics when what you'd need to draw a plausible timeline hasn't been set out clearly. Someone would need to go point-by-point through the article.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 1:56 PM
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I'm starting to feel that the answer could be Twisty Faster's suggestion: that consent can be revoked at any point, including after the encounter.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 1:58 PM
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I have no idea what spiritually spoiled means but you aren't going to have casual sex (which may have its good sides! I don't give a shit about the sex qua sex) without at least some significant component of bad behavior and ambiguous broken feelings and ego projection, and the idea that you're going to solve the problem through better contracting is a a consumerist liberal (in the real sense) childish shibboleth that contradicts most of what we know about human behavior.

This is why I am so glad I wasn't raised by Americans. I agree that feelings can always be hurt and that with sex and relationships it's highly possible for no one to do anything wrong but for people to be hurt anyways. That said, there is NO reason why casual sex has to suck or be scarring or involve ego projection. I think a big part of it is that once one makes sex overly serious, one sucks all the fun out of it. Some of the most fun sex I've ever had involved no orgasms and I guy who couldn't really get it up. What made it the most fun (not the best sex, obviously) was the attitudes. I shrugged it off, he shrugged it off, and then we laughed and remained good friends.

I feel like even sex-positive Americans treat sex like it's always a super fraught and serious thing, rather than an activity that can be meaningful or can just be an interesting way to pass half an hour.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 1:59 PM
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You assholes made me actually read rather than skim the Babe.com story. Before you start microlitigating it, someone is going to have to put together a detailed chronology because the story as written is extraordinarily confusing.

I haven't read it either, which is why I'm commenting here about Chris Matthews and Garrison Keillor instead. Does she mention which drugs they may have consumed which may have led to abnormal behavior and perceptions?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:07 PM
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It's probably for the best that the adults around where I grew up were content to never mention anything about sex ever. All the pregnant teenagers were a good sign nobody was taking sex as a super fraught and serious thing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:08 PM
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178 - An alternative possibility is that Germanic/Scandinavian women mentally just blow off a lot of things like LB's story in the name of a kind of ingrained and adopted toughness. I'm not saying that's true -- how would I know -- but it's always struck me as a possibility.

And to be clear, I'm not saying that casual sex by logical necessity causes problems or is wrapped up in ego or whatever. YOUR casual sex experience may have been great. But often and on average, it very will create tense, confusing, or exploitative situations, and ignoring that is a kind of willful blindness.

And now I should definitely stop commenting.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:09 PM
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178: I was also wondering whether this was a general US versus ETEurope distinction, but I think that NW is British (? - apologies if not), so I was reluctant to go there.

My limited experience (conversationally and carnally) tends to back up 178.2, however.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:09 PM
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166

One thing that I think might be a really important positive development of #metoo is a way for women to talk about their casual experiences with sexual assault and have it taken seriously by society and not have to perform a certain sort of trauma or victimhood. Like most (if not all women) I've been sexually assaulted, but in terms of trauma, they're not really up there with nonsexual traumatic encounters. Being told it's false consciousness or repression on my part isn't helpful, but pointing out that #notallwomen have to feel broken or damaged by sexual assault or rape in certain conversations gets you lumped in with people who minimize or apologize for sexual assault. It's not maybe totally there, but I do think it's where #metoo is going--i.e., as a woman you can handle assault and rape and still be a strong healthy person, but you shouldn't have to put up with such bullshit.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:11 PM
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Timeline:

1) They get back to his apartment and he very quickly initiates stripping her, and saying he's going to get a condom. She says 'Whoa, let's relax for a sec, let's chill.'" He then performs oral sex on her quickly, and asks her to perform oral sex on him and she complies -- all this in the first ten minutes they're in his apartment.

2) Over the next 30 minutes, he continues touching her in ways that make her uncomfortable, and she tries and fails to physically evade him: "But the main thing was that he wouldn't let her move away from him. She compared the path they cut across his apartment to a football play. 'It was 30 minutes of me getting up and moving and him following and sticking his fingers down my throat again. It was really repetitive. It felt like a fucking game.'"

3) He asks where she wants to have sex: "I wasn't really even thinking of that, I didn't want to be engaged in that with him. But he kept asking, so I said, 'Next time.' And he goes, 'Oh, you mean second date?' and I go, 'Oh, yeah, sure,' and he goes, 'Well, if I poured you another glass of wine now, would it count as our second date?'" He then poured her a glass and handed it to her. "

4) She goes and hides in the bathroom for five minutes.

5) She emerges: "Then she went back to Ansari. He asked her if she was okay. 'I said I don't want to feel forced because then I'll hate you, and I'd rather not hate you,' she said."

6) He calms down and backs off for a short while, and then indicates that he wants her to give him oral sex and she goes along with it.

7) He pulls her up off the couch, takes her over to a mirror and and rams his penis against her ass while asking if she wants him to fuck her there. She says that "no, I don't think I'm ready to do this, I really don't think I'm going to do this".

8)In response, he suggests that they chill with their clothes back on. He puts on an episode of Seinfeld, during which he sticks his fingers in her mouth again and starts trying to strip her again.

9) And then she says she's going to call herself a car and leave; he aggressively kisses her some more but ultimately calls her a car.

10) She cries in the car on the way home.

I really don't understand what was confusing about the timeline -- all of that is told in that order in the article. The only part of it that's not well-ordered is a statement that he kept on putting her hand on his dick throughout the evening, five to seven times, but not specified in relation to other events.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:16 PM
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I feel like even sex-positive Americans treat sex like it's always a super fraught and serious thing, rather than an activity that can be meaningful or can just be an interesting way to pass half an hour.

Based on movies and books, I wonder if sex-positive Americans had this European attitude for a few years, but then the AIDS epidemic changed everything.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:16 PM
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181.1: Wasn't there a great hue and cry when Assange was accused of rape, because Swedish laws around consent are so unfair and burdensome to men, who can never be sure if they're involved in a consensual sexual encounter or inadvertently raping someone? That doesn't sound like a culture that shrugs off sexual assault in the name of toughness.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:17 PM
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Had an almost identical experience to 158.2 a few years back. The person who did it was drunk. She was and remains a good friend of mine, but I am utterly confident that if I confronted her about it she would a) not remember and b) ridicule the idea that it could possibly count as any sort of sexual assault rather than just being, basically, the physical equivalent of banter.


Posted by: Anon for this one | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:22 PM
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181

I mean, I don't think that anyone should have casual sex if they don't want to, and I'm actually pretty bad at it, having ended up married to every man I've slept with on the first date. Most importantly, I think people should feel comfortable with the amount of sex they're having or not having, and only have sex that feels positive for them, for whatever values they hold. I don't think Enlightened Topless Europe is a utopia, but I do think that the US sort of seems uniquely sex negative and we do make sex weirdly fraught. The one main difference is I think in ETE Europe you're expected to be as polite and considerate to your sexual partner as you would a person in any other intimate social occasion. IME in Northern Europe, there's a lot of emphasis on consent and equality and bodily autonomy, and in Southern Europe, there's a lot of emphasis on the etiquette of seduction and being a good lover. In France and Italy it's not that people are into consent per se, but if the other person isn't noticeably into it it's a pretty good sign that you are really bad in bed, which is a cultural and national failing.* The end result is that in both places treating even a casual sexual partner like dirt is highly negatively stigmatized.

*This can pair with regressive sexual attitudes, e.g. there are definitely Italian men who would think a woman who slept around a lot is not marriage material, but in the sexual encounter he would center her pleasure and treat her with respect.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:25 PM
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Thanks.

I really don't understand what was confusing about the timeline

Does this, particularly but not only the oral sex encounters that seem to go nowhere, seem like a timeline of sexual events that is remotely familiar to anyone's experience? I'm not saying that makes it untrue, because of course who knows. But, like, you immediately come into someone's apartment, have oral sex, then stop take a break to do evasive, football-style kissing maneuvers, then go to the bathroom, then come out of the bathroom and chill, then have more oral sex, then stop and hang out on a couch for a while, then get asked for anal sex, then stop, hang out on the couch and watch Seinfeld, and then go home? Just as a logistical matter, where are people's clothes?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:27 PM
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It sounds reasonable for a timeline where one person wants to have sex and another person doesn't want to have sex but doesn't want to break all connection with the person for whatever reason.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:32 PM
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189

It's not anything I've experienced and it doesn't sound fun but it sounds plausible. Millennials also have way more oral sex than Gen X and Boomers, I'm pretty sure (i.e. read some article about that, like, 10 years ago).


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:32 PM
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Also what 190 said.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:33 PM
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I mean, it seems like a pretty good example of the kind of tense, confusing, exploitative situation you mention in 181. He wants sex. She wants to be with him but does not want sex and is using oral sex as a compromise. Which isn't something I'd recommend, but isn't incomprehensible.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:34 PM
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It's weird because it's not a normal, successful sexual encounter, it's him hassling her while she's freaked out and unsure what's going on and if the evening is going to turn into something with him acting normally.

Like, the initial oral sex that goes nowhere makes perfect sense if he's hustled her into it quickly, she didn't initially object, and then she stopped because she wasn't comfortable. As with the evasive football-style stuff that comes next -- she's trying to not consent to immediate, intense groping and sex without being hostile enough to bring the evening to an end, because she's still confused and freaked out enough to think that if she just communicates what she doesn't want, the evening can recover.

But the weirdness is the point of the story. What makes it weird is that there are three or four points where any non-horrifying man would have backed off and stopped trying to touch her sexually.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:34 PM
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Halford, I looked it up to see if I was misremembering and while it's not unambiguous, I think "do you want me to fuck your here?" means in front of the mirror or at least in that new part of the apartment rather than anal specifically.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:36 PM
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It also sounds like a situation where one person may be open to sex but the other person is going too fast. Even as a straight male, I can remember several situations where I was anticipating sex but the other person went faster than I find enjoyable and it made me uncomfortable and turned me off.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:36 PM
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I honestly just mean at a practical level. For example, by the time the evasive kissing maneuvers start, they've already had sex.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:36 PM
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Yeah. It isn't confusing in the sense of you don't know what order things happened in; it's confusing in the sense of being really, really weird. In an a experience of women extending over many years and three separate continents, like Dr. Watson's, I've never had any sort of romantic encounter remotely like that , even leaving the assault aside. Certainly not on a good date. These people are aliens.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:36 PM
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196 to 190. I'm slow at typing today.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:37 PM
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198 answered by 194.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:38 PM
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Thinking about this and NW's comments above.

I feel like even sex-positive Americans treat sex like it's always a super fraught and serious thing, rather than an activity that can be meaningful or can just be an interesting way to pass half an hour.

I recognize myself in that description. I'd say that I don't have much experience with casual sex, am temperamentally wary of it, and that is reinforced by the sex education and culture that I experienced (and there was a 10? year period in which fear of AIDS made sex education even more inclined to emphasize the negatives).

Going beyond my personal feelings, however the statistics in the article from The Week are horrifying and suggest that there are a LOT of people poorly served by the current norms around sex.

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.

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:39 PM
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197: Well, they've already had brief oral-genital contact, if you want to describe that as having had sex, sure.

198: I don't mean to jump on you, but "These people are aliens" seems a little off in that it implies the weirdness is mutual? That is, don't you think the reason you've never had a romantic encounter even remotely like that is that on any occasion when you were engaged in some kind of sexual activity and your partner said anything along the lines of "Whoa, let's chill" you backed the fuck off (I dearly hope). That's in the first ten minutes of the evening, and if he'd behaved in any way I'd expect a decent person to be familiar with after that point, there's no reason to think the rest of the evening would have been weird at all. He was weirdly aggressive throughout -- her behavior much less so.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:42 PM
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202 to 198 before I saw 200.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:43 PM
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I managed to sublimate my fear of AIDS into fear of serial killers.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:44 PM
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It turned out to be a mistake. How was I to know they would develop treatments for AIDS faster than they would get rid of serial killers. From the perspective of 1989, I just figured they had only to check everybody who buys a clown costume.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:51 PM
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I'm wondering if it's the influence of AIDS on health education in the 80s and 90s combined with a pretty toxic pop culture message to kids at the same time,* plus silence at home. I managed to avoid it by going to weird leftist hippy public schools where we were taught how to masturbate in 8th grade; growing up with almost no exposure to mainstream pop culture; and having my family be non-American. On top of this I'm just sort of extra oblivious to certain things.

*I think for girls the most toxic message was that sex was about being desirable to a man and giving a man pleasure, rather than about desiring and getting pleasure from men. I know lots of women who picked up that sex was about being an object for a man to get pleasure from, and if you gave him enough pleasure he would give you what you wanted, like making you his girlfriend. I think in a way it was actually a giant step backwards in terms of women's empowerment because it framed refusing sex as prudish and uptight, but it still defined sex as something women do for men, not something women do for themselves. For Gen X women especially, who became sexually active in the 80s and 90s, I think you ended up with women feeling pressured into lots of terrible sex with men they didn't want to sleep with but felt like they had to. I also think that's why its Gen X women are mainly the ones taking part in the backlash. It's hard to undo cultural programming, even if it's really damaging.

Anyways for all its problems, I think SATC helped a lot changing cultural attitudes towards women as sexually agentive people, and has had a positive effect on millennial sexual attitudes.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:55 PM
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"If Caitlin Flanagan is for it, I'm against it" is about as surefire a heuristic is one could hope to find, isn't it?

As it happens, when this story originally broke, all I saw were oblique references naming AA. Nobody included any context at all, so I just googled, and Flanagan's piece was the first that came up. I didn't immediately realize it was her, so I started. Something struck me as off, so I scrolled up, saw it was her, and decided to finish, but assume she was full of shit. Honestly, nothing I've read since then has made me rethink that approach.

I suppose that's the opposite of D^2's old gem, but there it is.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:55 PM
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206: As a Gen Xer, I would like to point out that SATC is about women older than I am, on the line between Xers and Boomers. And all of you millenials can get off my lawn.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:58 PM
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Anyways, I'm thinking of Susan Faludi's Backlash and her analysis of the 80s and 90s pop culture (if you think about Pretty Woman, the plot is creepy AF, especially when you realize Richard Gere is basically playing Mitt Romney), plus this article I read that I don't really remember the title of that pointed out that Gen Xers had more conservative sexual mores than either Boomers or Millennials.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 2:59 PM
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I think there's a streak of protestant morality than runs through American culture (I say this as a consumer of it from afar, feel free to set me right). It seems most obvious in widespread attitudes to sex, and to work.

If anything, this attitude caused the AIDS crisis, rather than the reverse. (HIV existed in other places too, but was dealt with more effectively - I think Michael Hobbes / Rotten in Denmark wrote a good piece about this.)


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:02 PM
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208

Right, but its biggest cultural influence wasn't on women your age or the age of the characters. It was on women in high school and college who were 10-15 years younger than them. SATC reshaped how young women did "girl talk" and normalized frank open discussions about sex among young women.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:03 PM
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Kim Cattrall is old enough to have played adult role in the original run of Columbo. An adult who usually was in a bikini, if I recall the episode correctly.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:03 PM
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Anyways, I'm thinking of Susan Faludi's Backlash and her analysis of the 80s and 90s pop culture

Published in 1991 -- it's about the culture of the 80s, largely before Xers were out of college.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:04 PM
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(if you think about Pretty Woman, the plot is creepy AF, especially when you realize Richard Gere is basically playing Mitt Romney)

That's why George Costanza is in there. To make Gere look less creepy in comparison.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:04 PM
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her behavior much less so.

Look, feel free to tell me I'm way the fuck off here or being an asshole, but I honestly think that if we try and not think about the political implications of admitting this, most men and women would find her specific behavior (assuming story and chronology are as described) pretty deeply alien. It's not passive, resigned accommodating to an aggressive partner; it's not getting up and leaving; it's not wanting to please the partner while feeling uncomfortable; it's not being coerced into sex; it's not being turned on and then getting not turned on. Instead, it's some sort of halting starting and stopping, interspersed with a strangely large amount of wanting to sit on a couch and watch TV.

Of course, this still makes him a horrible jerk. That much is clear. But the cumulative oddness of the story makes it cumulatively odd.

206 - I'm a Gen-Xer, but 206.2 sounds utterly and completely foreign to my experience. People were told to have safe sex b/c AIDS, but the notion that "sex was about being an object for a man to get pleasure from, and if you gave him enough pleasure he would give you what you wanted, like making you his girlfriend" was -- I mean, I guess it was still there, as a background patriarchal assumption, as it is today, but it certainly was not ideology or accepted wisdom or the conscious belief of most women and the notion that this was the common generational assumption that explains everything seems way way way way off. Colleges in the early 90s in the US had free condoms in the bathrooms and little pamphlets explaining about how to make safe sex consensual and fun or whatever.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:08 PM
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NW is indeed British, though was for some years married to a Swede and living there. But I think things have changed a lot in the last thirty years, probably in both countries.


Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:10 PM
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213

I think that younger Boomers are more like Gen Xers than they are older Boomers, in terms of coming of age in the late 70s/early 80s as opposed to the late 60s/early 70s. Or maybe the categories are more fine grained than that. I'm also not sure where the line between Boomer and Gen Xer is, around 1965? Anyways, older Gen Xers were teens and young adults in the 80s.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:12 PM
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It's literally impossible to do this, at least as a straight man, so why the fuck am I doing this at all, but let me say this again in all caps - the raising of potential weirdness in her behavior and the encounter DOES NOT MEAN THAT I AM SAYING THAT WHAT ANSARI DID IF THE STORY WAS TRUE WAS OK OR NORMAL ACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR. And I'm not trying to JAQ off or microlitigate this either. I will hold on to the point that it is a genuinely weird chronology and set of behavior.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:13 PM
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I would say that generations go, split arbitrarily into 20 year increments for symmetry reasons:

1945-1955 (older "classic" boomers)
1955-1965 (younger boomers)
1965-1975 (older "classic" Gen Xers)
1975-1985 (Gen Y (75-80 more like Gen X, 80-85 more like Millennials)
1985-1995 (Older Millennials, still vaguely remember pre fast internet)
1995-2005 (Younger Millennials)
2005-2015 (???)


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:20 PM
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I know lots of people like to define Millennials from 1980-2000, but then you have to have an asymmetrical generation.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:21 PM
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218: As a counterpoint, I don't find the behaviour weird. It's really hard to negotiate a situation when someone starts trying to push past your boundaries who, up to that point, had been perfectly nice. Harder still when you're younger. I can't remember if I've mentioned this here before, but: in my early twenties, on a long train journey in the UK, a middle-aged guy was sitting next to me as I was doing a crossword. We got talking, and ended up doing the crossword together. After discussing a couple of clues, he put his hand on my upper thigh. It was excruciatingly awkward - I hadn't given any sign that I was interested in him (bar a mutual interest in the Guardian cryptic) and I squirmed as far away in my seat as I could. Here's the thing though - Other than making it as obvious as I could that I wanted to be away from his hand, I didn't say anything at all, didn't remove the hand, tried to ignore it and continued doing the crossword with him. This went on for an hour or so before one or other of us got off.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:23 PM
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Look, feel free to tell me I'm way the fuck off here or being an asshole, but I honestly think that if we try and not think about the political implications of admitting this, most men and women would find her specific behavior (assuming story and chronology are as described) pretty deeply alien.

It's really not, at least to me. That is, it's not a situation I'd be likely to be in, or a way I'd be likely to behave in a similar situation, but it makes perfect sense to me. Try it with a couple of assumptions: (1) She's excited about her date with a famous guy; (2) She went into it generically willing to do some sexual stuff; but (3) She thought, reasonably, that she could give non-blanket consent to sexual activity -- consent to some stuff but not to literally anything he wanted to do to her sexually.

At that point, all the starting and stopping makes sense, right? He keeps aggressively pushing into something she doesn't want to do; she moves away, or says not tonight, or "don't make me feel forced"; he pauses momentarily, and then pushes hard again. Through a large part of the encounter, she doesn't seem to be thinking of it as sexual assault, but that she's trying to negotiate the terms of a limited sexual encounter without bringing it entirely to an end, and he keeps on disregarding her refusals. The "excited about her date with a famous guy" aspect of it probably kept her hoping he'd stop aggressively disregarding what she wanted for longer than she might have otherwise.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:23 PM
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I'm wondering if it's the influence of AIDS on health education in the 80s and 90s combined with a pretty toxic pop culture message to kids at the same time,* plus silence at home.

I would say that generations go, split arbitrarily into 20 year increments for symmetry reasons:

Obligatory comment: variation in experience and attitudes between members of a "generation" is going to be large.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:23 PM
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I think LB had it exactly right in 194. She's trying to recover from a bad situation but not doing it well. She can't reconcile her idea of who Ansari is and what she's actually experiencing, and it's messing her up pretty badly. She keeps on trying to steer it into a normal, good, comfortably-paced encounter--which should be easy, because Aziz is such a standup guy, right? Obviously, she should have given up and left earlier but cognitive dissonance (and maybe being starstruck?) was working against her. While she's working through all this he's trying to take advantage of her. The chronology isn't like one I've experienced, but it doesn't strike me as strange given that narrative.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:24 PM
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Signing on to 215.last. The quoted assumption was viewed as retrograde in the late '80s, at least in some non-lefty places*. I do agree that fear of AIDS was widespread and had an impact; it 100% prevented me from cheating on BOGF with a hot Brasiliana whose consent was extremely enthusiastic.

*the last time we had a discussion along these lines, IIRC ydnew reported that her milieu was more retrograde than mine, so we can't say any one attitude was universal. But I went to a very middle of the road HS in a very Republican place, and I personally was a Catholic with pretty traditional sexual mores, and I still would have rolled my eyes at the quoted assumption.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:25 PM
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220: In popular usage "millennial" means either "anyone under 40" or "college students", even though today's trad college students aren't millennials.

She can't reconcile her idea of who Ansari is and what she's actually experiencing, and it's messing her up pretty badly.

This struck me, too -- she was expecting him to be the sort of cuddly gummy bear of his persona, and he was very aggressive.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:30 PM
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As for the awkwardness that RH is seeing, can't we blame Lena Dunham here? essear will yell at me for this, but even though I've never seen Girls, my understanding is that it depicted many, many sex scenes that were weird and awkward. Perhaps that's the framework under which Grace stuck around long after "cool, sexy experience" was off the table.

Mostly kidding, because I agree with 224 (and 194), but I do think there's some assumption about the world that I can't quite get my head around. My point isn't "Grace should have left sooner" so much as "Grace would have left sooner except that this awkward, going-wrong encounter fit into her expectations".


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:30 PM
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219: FWIW, if you shift things slightly, you can get a set of numbers that maybe work better:
1946-64 Boomers
1965-82 Gen X
1983-00 Millennials

That makes the gens all (about) the same size (BB gets an extra year, or really half year; AFAIK, the Boom started mid-'46, as the demob began 9/45), and Millennials end when they're supposed to.

I agree with your concept of dividing the gens in half; I think that's accurate culturally and politically (there's some evidence that older Boomers are more liberal than younger, frex).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:36 PM
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222 - I guess the key weirdness for me is this -- expecting it to just be a normal watch TV and hang out and chat evening when you've started out in the apartment receiving oral sex (and then have more oral sex later). It's not just a blanket consent issue -- it's the weird assumption about how the next step in the night would proceed. Nor does it really make sense as a "he's not who I thought," again because of how theybstart out. Maybe I'm out of touch and the Swedes and millenials these days start out dates with some oral sex, then if they're not feeling it go out for some frozen yogurt and watch Seinfeld reruns together on the couch.

Things like 221, by contrast, seem like garden-variety horrible stuff/accommodation that women put up with and that one hears about all the time. That this DOESN'T feel like that is what makes it, to me, feel odd (not that what I consider odd or not matters two shits).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:36 PM
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I'm wondering how many people who don't see their cultural upbringing in 206 are men? Because, if as a woman you're told you have to perform for men to give them pleasure, you get pretty good at performing pleasure. Sex might look and feel enthusiastic and consensual, but the woman is actually thinking the whole time, "are my jiggling love handles turning him off? I bet the last woman he slept with didn't have love handles. Maybe I'll angle my body so it doesn't jiggle like that. Is he enjoying himself? Maybe if I moan in his ear he'll like it. Did I moan too loud? Does he think I'm too loud? Or does he like it loud? I wonder if he thinks I'm good at this? Am I good at this? Jeff said I was amazing, but I wonder if he was just being nice?"

To the guy, he's not looking at her love handles, probably doesn't care, and only sees a woman moaning loudly in his ear. Maybe she gets off, maybe she doesn't, or maybe she fakes an orgasm. This isn't about men being jerks or secretly rapists, it's about women being raised to see sex as not about their own pleasure first and foremost. This isn't necessarily something women consciously think, i.e. I bet almost no women think, "I'm going to objectify myself and perform for male pleasure such that I get what I want out of the encounter," but I know a ton of women who think they are sex positive and enlightened but the minute they start having sex the monologue of insecurity and centering male pleasure pops in their head. Obviously, men can be insecure and anxious too, but women are trained to do this as the default.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:38 PM
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Didn't see 222.last until posting 227, but the famous guy (with a nice persona*) probably has more explanatory power than Dunham.

*not only the disconnect between persona and actions, but also that, with a generic Famous Guy, you're more prepared to say "OK, this jerk sees me as a groupie, so I'm either a groupie or I leave." You might hope that the guy is better than his persona/rep, but once he shows he's not, there's no conflict or hope for an actual relationship (of any sort).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:40 PM
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The only watch TV and hang out bit is after he grabbed her and humped her in front of the mirror and she said her most emphatic no. It makes sense to me if she was visibly very upset at that point, and he was backing off to calm her down and be reassuring -- everything's fine, no need to be upset, we're just going to chill out and watch TV. And then of course he started trying to strip her and stick his fingers in her mouth again, at which point she figured out that he wasn't ever going to give up on badgering her into sex, and left.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:41 PM
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232 to 229.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:41 PM
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The flip side of the same script is (obligatory #whataboutthemenz #patriarchyhurtsmentoo), I know women who think that if they have really amazing casual sex with a guy who has clearly stated he's not interested in anything more, he'll change his mind and fall in love. I've had female friends get ridiculously hurt when I guy who explicitly claimed he didn't want a relationship then failed to have a relationship with them. This is, again, part of how women are taught: if they're Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, they can turn an icky transactional sex encounter into a grand love story. The result is women suffering through shitty painful sex with men who don't care about them because they think it's how you get to rainbows and unicorns sex and true love later.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:48 PM
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230: But surely, if the question is expectations around het sex, what the male expects is part of the equation? That is, I get that girls and women are getting all sorts of messages about self-doubt and -hatred that men (especially, when they're young, their peers, who won't be very woke) are unaware of. But basic questions of "should the man try to pleasure his partner?" are very much the purview of both parties.

That is, it really does matter whether I thought it was important for us both to feel pleasure, or whether I just wanted to get off (and assumed she would somehow enjoy it). And it's not as if there weren't and aren't men in both categories; I certainly knew guys who had shitty views on sex. What I'm saying is that those guys were widely viewed as having shitty views. Including by guys (like myself) whose views were, in retrospect, pretty shitty.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:48 PM
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And can I just note that the fingers in the mouth thing, outside of actual, ongoing sex, is super-gross and awkward? Every time it's mentioned, I cringe.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:49 PM
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I mean people undergoing low-grade sexual assault probably do act weirdly.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:49 PM
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230 - I can obviously only answer as a man. But I think you are making a generational stereotype that is just wrong, and certainly the conscious, generic, oft-repeated form of sex education was that women should get pleasure from sex and that men should provide it. Does that mean that women were raised to think of sex as "for their own pleasure, first and foremost"? I dunno what you mean by that, but in the relevant sense, yes, while of course accounting for the fact that for both partners non-rape sex is not, almost by definition, "first and foremost" for one person's pleasure alone.

232 - what about the space between 3-6 on your timeline? Or for that matter between 1 and 2?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:50 PM
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They're not watching TV during either of those periods. There's a repeated pattern where he pushes aggressively until she resists, and then he backs off a little for a bit until her immediate active resistance is over, but I'm not seeing why that seems strange to you. It's an obvious tactic to keep pushing her a little more at each step, right?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:55 PM
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I still don't find Grace's reaction at all weird. It reads to me like she was open to sexual contact*, and liked and was attracted to him (they had previously flirted in person and via text). He has taken her interest in him and his consent as read - he hurries her through the meal and as soon as they get back to his place, starts to undress her. She's trying to slow things down, he keeps pushing, she gets increasingly uncomfortable and isn't enjoying herself, and this cycle goes around a few times. Each time she thinks she's been clear and they are going to slow down, he immediately starts to jump straight to full sexual contact with more or less success (either he manages to initiate oral or digital sex for a while, or she manages to fend him off). Eventually she gives up on the evening and on him and asks him to call a taxi.

*I'm not pretending to read her mind, and it's quite possible that she was expecting to get to know him before considering anything sexual, but this is how it reads to me. In her account she's not objecting to the fact of the sex - she's objecting to Ansari behaving in an "entitled" manner and ignoring her requests to slow down.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:57 PM
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Isn't 230 describing performance anxiety? Is that something that afflicts women more than men?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:57 PM
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239 - I guess, but they've started out with oral sex. It's not pushing further and further at each step (I agree with you that's a totally familiar situation) -- It's starting from a high point, with her having an expectation that they can easily ratchet it down but still stay together on a date. The question seems to be after having oral sex, will she continue to have more sex, including oral sex or PIV sex, or will they just stop having sex at all (but also not stop the date and continue to hang out).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 3:59 PM
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240 - *interest in him, and her consent as read


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:00 PM
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Halford, I think all your bafflement is addressed by 191.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:04 PM
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She's trying to slow things down, he keeps pushing, she gets increasingly uncomfortable and isn't enjoying herself, and this cycle goes around a few times.

Again, this is exactly what's not described as happening. They start out with oral sex and then move from there to kissing, with him suggesting PIV sex and eventually asking for more oral sex. It's perfectly understandable for her to want to stop; what's weird is the assumption that an encounter that starts out with apparently completely consensual, non-pressured oral sex is then going (absent very very clear statement or leaving) going to be ratcheted down to no sex at all and hanging out.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:05 PM
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I .. don't think that's weird? And the statement seems pretty clear to me.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:06 PM
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242: The question seems to be after having oral sex, will she continue to have more sex, including oral sex or PIV sex, or will they just stop having sex at all (but also not stop the date and continue to hang out).

In my reading, Grace is angling for the second as a pre-requisite for the first. The two aren't mutually exclusive.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:07 PM
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The particular scenario is weird and seems to be what everyone has already said, a way to de-escalate but not end the evening, but the idea of people in general having consensual oral sex as foreplay then taking a break to watch TV or eat fro yo doesn't seem weird at all.

238

I think we're going to have to agree to disagree. Obviously I have no idea about your own experiences, and general trends certainly don't apply to all people, but I don't think it's controversial to say that in late 20th century America men and women have been raised to privilege male pleasure. Again, the article NickS mentioned in 201 makes it pretty clear women and men aren't using the same scale when they're talking about bad sex, and that men are pretty clueless about women's sexual experiences.

241

I would say that performance anxiety is experienced by both genders but it's also gendered.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:11 PM
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Obviously watching tv on a date is an abomination. But in what contexts would oral sex be reasonable?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:12 PM
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I think it's worth bearing in mind that Grace is doing her best in a situation that she isn't in control of, so to describe her behaviour as weird is kind of uncharitable.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:12 PM
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Reading more carefully, I also don't think 245 is weird at all either.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:14 PM
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I mean, it is weird because it's a way of handling a fucked up situation, but once you accept that premise it seems a non-weird way to try manage what's going on.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:15 PM
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230.first is what a large number of my female friends and partners report (ages 30-45). They also often report having more fun once they learn how not to think that way.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:16 PM
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Also the way 245 reads is that once you've committed to oral sex, you're basically OK with all other types of sex, but the precise point of this whole movement is that you can pick and choose what you want to do sexually, and it's OK to opt out. It's an a la carte menu, not a prix fix one.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:17 PM
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...an encounter that starts out with apparently completely consensual, non-pressured oral sex...

This is how the lead in to the oral sex is described in the story:

When they walked back in, she complimented his marble countertops. According to Grace, Ansari turned the compliment into an invitation.

"He said something along the lines of, 'How about you hop up and take a seat?'" Within moments, he was kissing her. "In a second, his hand was on my breast." Then he was undressing her, then he undressed himself. She remembers feeling uncomfortable at how quickly things escalated.

That doesn't sound to me like affirmative consent, and it definitely doesn't sound unpressured.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:18 PM
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242: "They" didn't mutually agree to have oral sex. He hustled her into it at disconcerting speed, she didn't immediately refuse (presumably both because he took her off balance, and because she thought of it as something they were plausibly likely to get to at some point in the evening), and then she started pushing back to get the evening onto a timeline that wasn't freaking her out as way too fast.

It is weird trying to slow down after the initial, brief, oral sex, but the weirdness was that the super-fast oral sex was something he hustled her into and she was trying to back off from.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:19 PM
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But I'd argue that because Americans take sex too seriously, the idea that it could be unambiguously about fun and pleasure and not about something else (and that list of something else is pretty long) is pretty rare (especially for the woman). It's even rare in pop culture.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:19 PM
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Apologies for the italics fail.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:19 PM
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It is weird trying to slow down after the initial, brief, oral sex, but the weirdness was that the super-fast oral sex was something he hustled her into and she was trying to back off from.

Exactly.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:23 PM
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Yes, the non-pressured part was wrong; I was basing that on the chronology, not the story. But still, the idea that she's trying to slow things down, he keeps putting on the pressure is also wrong, or odd in context, because they actually have the oral sex (which doesn't seem to be a particular negative in the evening). At that point, why on earth would you assume that, absent being very clear indeed, you aren't going to be in a situation in which (if you choose to continue the date) this date is going to be involving more sexual contact? It's the assumption that this obviously wouldn't be true that's weird.

Again, and I don't know how to say this enough, the point here is not to exonerate Anzari - he seems like a shithead. But I am sticking with "weird," unless 244 is right and for millenials oral sex is the rough equivalent of a quick peck on the lips and is a routine precursor to nothing more.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:26 PM
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(More of 256: It does sound like the initial oral sex was formally consensual -- she participated and she didn't object -- but that it wasn't something she was expecting or wanted in the moment. If they'd been mutually excited about making each other orgasm all over his marble countertops the second the front door of his apartment swung shit, the backing off to her trying to cool off the making out would be kind of peculiar along the lines that bothers Halford. But that's not how her story sounds at all.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:27 PM
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257: My literature review has a cite that, though not explicitly about sex, would seem to show that girls just want to have fun (Lauper, C.A., 1983).


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:33 PM
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What seems weird is the insistence that after having barely consensual oral sex, she obviously has to do more sexy stuff later. This is precisely what the whole "enthusiastic consent" campaign is trying to get away from. It makes complete sense that you can have oral sex, stop halfway, and then watch TV. You can start PIV sex, stop halfway, and then watch TV. You can have anal sex, stop halfway, and then watch TV. You can have any sort of sex, stop halfway, and decide that you'd rather cuddle and kiss. You can decide to have sex again later or you can decide not too. You can consent to having sex with a condom but not sex without a condom. This is the new standard for millennials and ETEs (and especially ETE millennials), and IME ETE millennial men are totally OK with the idea that you might start sex and stop before anyone finishes if someone changes their mind. Anyways, there are zero sex acts that lock you into more sexual activity.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:35 PM
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260.2

But also, for millennials oral is standard foreplay.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:36 PM
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260: Try it this way. From the outset, she wants to have a sort of ordinarily slow-paced sexual encounter -- some making out, mutually agreed upon escalation to different activities both parties are going to enjoy, maybe oral sex, maybe penetrative sex.

They walk into his apartment, and suddenly he's stripping her, he's got his mouth on her, he's asking her to reciprocate, and she goes along with it in the moment for a short while, and doesn't perceive it as an assault, but realizes that it's not what she wants to be doing -- she wants the slower paced encounter she was thinking of. So she stops, and tries to get things back to going at her pace. The initial brief oral sex doesn't have to be traumatic or an assault for her to realize that it's not what she wanted and that she didn't want it to set the pace for the rest of the evening, right?

And then the rest of the evening goes bad because, in the face of her being really very clear, he keeps pushing to do things she doesn't want at a pace she's not comfortable with.

It is weird -- like, there's an alternative universe in which Ansari is a decent guy who's just a little impatient, the initial oral sex happened the same way, and then when she pushed back to step back from the oral and slow the pace down, he respected her limits. And in that universe, the initial oral would have been an uncomfortable misstep that they recovered from and went on to have a nice time together nonetheless. But I don't think it's all that strange of her, in our world, to have hoped that she could have recovered the evening from that initial misstep.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:37 PM
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That reminds me, I have to get my PIV card renewed this next month.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:38 PM
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I hope the name is strictly literal and there's no butt stuff on the test.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:41 PM
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There are signs for PIV for most buildings on our campus.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:42 PM
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Buttercup, you are affirmatively pissing me off (a good sign that I should stop commenting). Stop engaging in stupid generational stereotypes -- nothing you are saying was unfamiliar to any sex ed class in 1990, so stop the fucking patronizing. Milllenials did not invent informed or enthusiastic consent; neither did they invent the concept that consent can be withdrawn. I am well aware of the idea of enthusiastic consent and withdrawing consent. That's more than a cultural norm -- it is the law, and has been for decades, a law put inot place with non-millenials. But that has little to do with this situation. I am of course not saying that she was "obligated" to do more sexy stuff later or that she couldn't withdraw her consent. Of course she wasn't. It's the contrary assumption -- that one would assume, without making it very explicit, that her partner would simply understand that she just wanted to hang out after starting out an encounter with oral sex, that strikes me as odd. That he did not understand that is of course a failure of empathy and good behavior on his part. That she would simply assume that he would understand this, and that she wouldn't have to leave the date (or make the situation absolutely crystal clear) is equally odd, and is odd for people born in 1930, 1960, 1990, or, I would think, 2000.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:45 PM
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Leaving Buttercup's generational weirdness out of it (and I agree that it's weird), what makes you say that she wasn't clear about what she wanted and what she didn't want?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:48 PM
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269: I'm not disagreeing with you but I also assume it's sort of odd anyway to have a date with a celebrity. She's 23 or something and he's a decade older and has written a book and a tv show about dating. A lot of her "okay, I guess this is how it works?" confusion could be attributable to that. His path makes sense to me too but from a jerky user perspective.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:49 PM
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Honestly, I don't feel very Gen X-sexual, except maybe a lingering Winona Ryder fixation.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:51 PM
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There is an explicit verbal exchange, where he asks where she wants to have sex, and she says next time. And he clarifies that she means on the second date, and she agrees that yes, that's what she means. At that point she has unambiguously said that she doesn't want to have sex. Whatever ambiguity may have been introduced into the situation by her willingness to go along with the oral sex he initiated, she's verbally resolved it, at least with respect to penetrative sex.

What greater level of explicitness would you expect?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:51 PM
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269: It's the contrary assumption -- that one would assume, without making it very explicit, that her partner would simply understand that she just wanted to hang out after starting out an encounter with oral sex, that strikes me as odd.

She did make it explicit, verbally and through body language, and your phrasing, perhaps unintentially, makes it sound like she initiated the oral sex, which isn't the case by her account.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:52 PM
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272: Did you miss the announcement?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:52 PM
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I'm hoping for a game of croquet and a murder first.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:53 PM
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265 is by far the best explanation for non-weirdness that I've seen, and yes that does make sense. Thanks. Still, I think most people would understand that re-setting things on a slower but still passionate course at the point after the oral sex would absent really clear communication be a fraught and difficult endeavor. It might be the fault of the poorly-written article, but the baseline assumption seems to be that OF COURSE they should have been able to easily re-start on a slower pace and she was just baffled with why he didn't immediately understand that (yet still want to leave or end the date). This makes the article read oddly (to me).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:55 PM
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At that point she has unambiguously said that she doesn't want to have sex.

I took this to mean only that she didn't want PIV sex, which (despite gross pressure on his part) they don't actually have. But their having oral sex doesn't seem encompassed in the second-date rule, and they have oral sex again.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:58 PM
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I have marble countertops, and they're higher maintenance than you've heard. Sexual contact of any kind on marble countertops is a very very bad idea. Lock him up!


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 4:59 PM
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278: It is absolutely unambiguous that she doesn't want to have PIV sex that night. It is very very strongly suggestive that whatever his conclusions might be about what she was interested in doing with him based on the fact that she didn't resist the immediate oral sex, that he needed to revisit those conclusions.

Like, I'm not quite taking Buttercup's position, I would take a partner's enthusiastic participation in oral sex as a strong indication that they were probably interested in sex generally (still needing to negotiate specifics, but I'd be expecting a fair number of yeses to particular activities). But once I got a clear no to a broad category of sex that I would have guessed would have been a yes? I would reset that assumption, and I'd expect any decent person to do the same, and start from scratch.

(And this is giving him credit for believing that she was an enthusiastic participant in the oral sex, which doesn't seem unambigiously to have been the case.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 5:05 PM
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It's fine to be pissed off by me, but it's important to note that loudly proclaiming that you find something weird that no one else does and then ignoring their responses is eventually going to lead to snarky replies.

Also, why is it so unusual that, in the midst of a massive cultural shift, we're noticing that there has been cultural change over time? Insisting that people born in 1930 have exactly the same views as those born now seems totally wrong, especially when you're demonstrating an inability to understand totally widespread contemporary sexual norms in the exact same thread.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 5:06 PM
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As a Generation Xer, I would like to note that I was not born in 1930. Neither were my parents.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 5:07 PM
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And that I don't think there has been a massive cultural shift in understandings of consent between Generation X and Millennials.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 5:10 PM
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281 to 269


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 5:13 PM
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I don't even know if I *am* Generation X or Millennial. I do find straight people weird about all this if we're moving on to overgeneralizations.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 5:13 PM
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My dad was born in 31.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 5:15 PM
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But, only people older than me can be characterized by the generation.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 5:17 PM
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228, 285 As I've surely said before, I think the original culture based (as opposed to WWII demob based) formulation is still the best:

1924-1941 Silent
1942-1960 Boomer
1961-1980 X
1980-2000 Millennial


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 5:19 PM
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strauss%E2%80%93Howe_generational_theory

I meant to use these boundaries, but didn't look it up, and so missed the boundary between X and Millennial.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 5:22 PM
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281 - I just don't believe that -- putting aside LB's 280, which is reasonable, but let's talk about it in a below in a second-- it is a "widespread contemporary sexual norm" that millenials start off dates with casual, apparently consensual oral sex but then, without being crystal-clear about it, immediately shift to no sex at all/hanging out on an ongoing date (as opposed to stopping the date entirely) and it is understood that this is perfectly normal, expected behavior. It's possible that I'm wrong and out of touch but I suspect that the more likely truth is that you are trying to make a point and don't really believe that either.

280 - once I got a clear no to a broad category of sex that I would have guessed would have been a yes? I would reset that assumption, and I'd expect any decent person to do the same, and start from scratch This seems absolutely right, certainly it is what a decent, cautious person should do. But it does also seem like a pretty different category than affirmatively withdrawn consent -- I can see a plausible read on which a particular kind of sex was rejected, but the other kind of sex (that was engaged in just a little bit before) was fine. That continues to make it odd to think that, when the partner does not automatically stop in all categories of sexual contact once you've signaled out one (and have just immediately previously been having sex), you'll more-or-less automatically be having a non-sexual date you don't need to break off. That's the weirdness I find.

I think my bottom line is that Anzari was clearly a non-empathetic jerk, who was selfish, fucking for his own pleasure, using his partner as an object, and terrible at communicating with his partner or reading her cues. I also think that it is weird for the article to just assume (not a moral black mark or anything, but nonetheless pretty weird) that a fairly complicated process of ratcheting down a sexual encounter that started off as oral sex, which takes a pretty advanced level of sexual communication, is perfectly easy to do between two strangers WITHOUT unambiguous communication so that one would assume that it would automatically happen absent unusual circumstances. The end.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 5:32 PM
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That continues to make it odd to think that, when the partner does not automatically stop in all categories of sexual contact once you've signaled out one (and have just immediately previously been having sex), you'll more-or-less automatically be having a non-sexual date you don't need to break off. That's the weirdness I find.

I still don't get your characterization of what she expected him to do as 'automatically stop'. They had the 'no sex today' exchange. Then he immediately asked if 'not today' meant 'not until after another glass of wine'. Then she hid in the bathroom. Then she came out and said 'Don't make me feel forced'. She's communicating with him in words! As well as behavior (if you ask your date if they've changed their mind about the refusal to have sex with you that they literally just said, and they go hide in the bathroom, that's a bad sign) but in clear words! That's not expecting him to automatically guess what she wants, that's communicating what she is not consenting to and expecting him to respect that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 5:44 PM
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I mean, ratcheting down the sexual encounter wasn't easy, and failed, but it didn't fail because she expected it to happen effortlessly, it failed because he didn't respect or cooperate with her efforts to communicate.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 5:45 PM
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290: WITHOUT unambiguous communication

"He probably moved my hand to his dick five to seven times," she said. "He really kept doing it after I moved it away."

"It was 30 minutes of me getting up and moving and him following and sticking his fingers down my throat again. It was really repetitive. It felt like a fucking game."

"Most of my discomfort was expressed in me pulling away and mumbling. I know that my hand stopped moving at some points," she said. "I stopped moving my lips and turned cold."

"I know I was physically giving off cues that I wasn't interested. I don't think that was noticed at all, or if it was, it was ignored."

"I said I don't want to feel forced because then I'll hate you, and I'd rather not hate you,"

"I just remember looking in the mirror and seeing him behind me. He was very much caught up in the moment and I obviously very much wasn't,"

I'm not seeing a lot of ambiguity?


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 5:45 PM
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and they go hide in the bathroom

Maybe the kids and all that avocado toast mean running off to the bathroom happens often during dates?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 5:49 PM
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I want to point out that there's a generation gap between "Grace" and Ansari. According to my scale, Ansari is Gen Y, while Grace is a Millennial.

290 Well, a minor quibble is they'd already been to a restaurant, so it wasn't the start of their date. But oral sex as casual foreplay is a thing for younger people. Also, my sexual norms include that it's pretty common that men will go down on women with no expectation of any sort of sexual reciprocation. (That is, the man eats, the woman shoots, and they both leave. Sorry. I couldn't help myself.)


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 5:55 PM
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Do they both leave because they're still at the restaurant? Is that why they keep complaining about not being able to buy a house.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 6:07 PM
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291 - I mean the underlying assumption based on the communication that they did have that it was plausible that they could continue to hang out and have a non-sexual date together as opposed to her breaking off the date and going home.

After she comes out of the bathroom (incidentally, not unambiguously "hiding" in the bathroom - the story doesn't suggest anything to make it clear that she was indicating that she was hiding in the bathroom) she said (on her account) "don't make me feel forced." He then says "it doesn't feel good unless we both feel good" or something similar. Then, after some period of hanging out together, he initiated oral sex on him (which is what they'd done [mutually - both he on her and she on him] when they started the encounter). Long above in this thread, we started this conversation by people saying (and this is how it seemed to me from a skim of the article, too) that her "don't make me feel forced" line, followed by the oral sex, was a more or less unambiguous violation of her consent, clear sexual assault even if not provably criminal in a court of law. It's that second oral sex that's the clearest case for possible assault. It's that that seems like the most unambiguous violation by Anzari. But in context it seems -- not empathetic, shitty, selfish behavior, but probably not sexual assault -- for him to initiate oral sex because it seems like maybe the line that's drawn has been oral sex and no further, since she's already given oral sex and is still there (certainly, she hasn't done anything to unambiguously indicate that oral sex is off the table). She then apparently, but not in her heart, consents to the oral sex, and still wants to leave. He then pesters her to have PIV sex, but she says no, and he stops. They then continue the date and she leaves after finally getting fed up with his crappy fingers-in-the-mouth move and the whole encounter. That's absolutely shitty behavior on Anzari's part. It's absolutely being unresponsive to her needs. But after a very early stage it's also undeniably weird for her to have assumed that a hanging-out date was going to go much differently, at least without much clearer communication than she (on her account) provided.

To 293, I would say that ratcheting down an encounter that starts off with oral sex actually takes communication, not the kinds of things listed in 293. And doubly so with a non-empathetic partner. The assumption that such signals alone, after clearly not being picked up on, would suffice to ratchet down the encounter, is odd. I mean, maybe it's unfortunate that this is how the world works, but those are not unambiguous signs in a situation in which the couple has already started having sex.

And there we go, microlitigating it, just what I didn't want to do. What a fantastic use of my day, my spirit, and my time.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 6:17 PM
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You could listen to the state of the union address if you want to fuck away the whole day.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 6:18 PM
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For the same reason cheap pizza is topped the "cheez", this year it's the state of the uniom address.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 6:19 PM
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We really do need an edit button. I guess it would change the whole blog.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 6:23 PM
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I think this is what Buttercup means by changing norms. I think that the physical and verbal communication listed above is absolutely clear communication of lack of consent, whether or not his subsequent actions meet the current legal standards of sexual assault. (If it matters, I'm approximately the same age as Ansari.)


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 6:24 PM
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297.last scans with "Turn the Page."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 6:26 PM
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300 - I made a their / there error in 135 and it will be on the internet forever.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 6:26 PM
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I mean, not really. But it could.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 6:26 PM
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297: I give up, but am horrified by what you consider to be insufficiently clear communication to get someone to stop being sexually aggressive. I'm going to reassure myself by hoping that you're just digging your heels on the argument and what you're saying doesn't reflect real world beliefs about what anyone can presume about a partner's consent based o that they've done in the past.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 6:31 PM
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301: I'm a bunch older still, and I'm with you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 6:33 PM
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And I'm older than Halford, I'm pretty sure, so not a generational divide there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 6:35 PM
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301, 302 - I don't think you are understanding what I am saying, and am reading into it things that I am not saying, which is why I should probably shut up, and why no one should ever get into these kinds of discussions. I am not saying that, as written, Grace engaged in what we SHOULD consider to be "insufficiently clear communication to get someone to stop being sexually aggressive." She did things that SHOULD HAVE been clear enough to end the encounter. People SHOULD BE more attentive to those kinds of signs and stop having sex when they are given.

What I am saying is that, in fact, in the real world, the kinds of behavior described IN FACT IS insufficiently clear in many ordinary situations to get (many people, including I am almost certain the blessed sex-having millenials) to stop being sexually aggressive, and that this is an unsurprising fact about the world and about sexual life that (I assume) even millenials understand, and it is simply odd to have it assumed to be otherwise.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 6:42 PM
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308.2: Hence, early in this thread, stuff about how much sexual assault is waved off, even nowadays, and, even earlier, stuff about how this story is important because it helps men to understand how extraordinarily unpleasant this behaviour is from a woman's perspective


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 6:51 PM
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To be more technical, what I'm colloquially referring to as a generational divide is actually a cohort divide. I think it's cross-layered with an actual generational effect--the fact people generally get more comfortable with themselves and their sexuality as they get older. So a 20 year old woman of any cohort is more likely to put up with worse behavior than a 40 year old woman of that same cohort. To compare apples to apples, you'd have to compare attitudes and behaviors of Gen X women in their early 20s to millennial women in their early 20s. If Gen Xers were born 1965-1975, they'd be 20 in 1985-1995, so we'd want to look at popular attitudes and cultural narratives from then (which is about the time Faludi is writing about, Pretty Woman came out in 1990). Older Millennials are 85-95, so they were 20 from 2005-2015, so the past 10 years, and younger millennials are about 20 now.

Using the other generational breaks:

1965-82 Gen X
1983-00 Millennials

1961-1980 X
1980-2000 Millennial

We get turning Xers 20 in 1985-2002/1981-2000, and Millennials 2003-2020 2000/2020. Again, I think that (possibly due to SATC), but that there was a shift in how women talked and thought about sex, which in turn has shifted general standards of expectations. Younger-ish woman are less willing to put up with boorish behavior that isn't pleasurable, although we're still pretty early into this cultural shift. But yes, among kids these days, it's considered assault if a man assumes his naked girlfriend will have sex with him without getting some sort of positive affirmative consent, and people consider it rape if someone doesn't stop a sexual encounter half way if the other person asks. I don't think this was true 20-30 years ago.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 6:51 PM
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You're also kind of putting the burden on Grace to stop the sexual contact, which she is trying to do. The responsibility is Ansari's.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 6:52 PM
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311 to 308


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 6:53 PM
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311

Right, it's a shift in responsibility. Rather than the requirement be to say no, the requirement is to elicit a yes, verbally or otherwise. (Though in this case it's a moot point because Grace did say no, over and over again, and Azari ignored it). But, assuming Grace never verbally expressed her lack of consent and just implied it with body language, Azari's behavior would be considered to be rapey (though perhaps not rape) by contemporary sexual mores.

The idea that the only reason you can tell a woman doesn't want sex is because she says no IMO ties back to ideas that women aren't very into sex and you can't really tell if a woman is enjoying it or not. I'm not saying that's what people consciously think, but there's light years in between someone passively allowing a sexual encounter to happen and actively participating in a sexual encounter, one that we can expect reasonable socially competent adults to recognize.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 7:00 PM
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I feel that 302 was over.interpreted.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 7:01 PM
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I'm not "putting responsibility" on anyone. I don't have that power. I'm not passing moral (or legal) judgment. Certainly he has the primary responsibility for the awfulness of the encounter; she has whatever agency and responsibility she has.

310- stop bullshitting. It's a bad habit and looks bad on you. I'm sure there's actually interesting stuff to be learnt about changing sexual practices but you are talking out of your ass.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 7:05 PM
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313: Agreed. Culturally, we're slowly moving away from an opt-out system to an opt-in system.

It should go without saying that non-verbal communication has always been part of this. For example, you don't have to go back that far to find that "wearing a short skirt" could be set against a verbal "no" to show that in fact, a woman wasn't really opting out at all.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 7:07 PM
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315: Your argument in 308 is that "in the real world", Grace wasn't sufficiently clear and should have understood that she wasn't being clear enough. I very strongly disagree - but that's wasn't the point of my 311, which was that "not protesting enough" is assigning practical (if not moral or legal) responsibility to the victim.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 7:12 PM
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And I'm out. Again, I am not making a normative statement about proper forms of consent or assigning "responsibility" to anyone as a moral or legal matter. If you want to ignore that and self-righteously preen on, or bullshit about generations without support, do so without me and without me as your target.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 7:13 PM
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317 - I didn't say a single thing about what Grace "should have done." As I just saiid.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 7:18 PM
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I agree that this is probably a good place to drop this. FWIW, I wasn't targeting you personally or hoping to make you angry, and I apologise if it came across that way (or if I misunderstood what you were arguing).


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 7:19 PM
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What I'm crabbing about is the difference between what was clear enough to make him actually stop, as opposed to clear enough to make him know that she wanted him to stop. Obviously, she wasn't clear enough to successfully make him stop, because he didn't. But I don't believe, based on the story as told, that he didn't actually know she wanted him to stop being sexually aggressive toward her.

She was clear enough to actually communicate her wishes, and if that's not enough, it's because the person you're trying to communicate with is willing to commit sexual assault. She wasn't clear enough to force him to admit that he understood what she wanted, but I don't think anything short of leaving would have been enough. That doesn't make her unclear, it makes him a wrongdoer.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 7:23 PM
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I started writing this comment before the thread became very conflictual, but now I've written it, so:

I have no idea whether this will be helpful, but Halford, I think maybe some of your confusion is stemming from trying to see her as making a rational, calculated prediction about his likely future behavior as opposed to being totally stressed out and acting from a lot of visceral emotional needs. I imagine (in part from familiarity with these types of situations) that on some implicit level she's trying to give him the opportunity to improve his behavior. Really it's explicit -- that's what she's saying with the "I don't want to feel forced" line. It's not just "I don't want to do this," it's "please be the person I thought you were." The instant she leaves, the door is closed to repair of their relationship. It doesn't make sense to think, based on what's already happened, that they are going to get through an episode of Seinfeld without him harassing her, but in her heightened state she's not applying everything she knows about human behavior -- she's trying to feel better. Or maybe this isn't quite what her motivations were, and she was driven by some other response to the stress of someone trying to harass her into sex. But in any case, it just doesn't make sense to try to understand her as engaging in calm, reasoned deliberations about his likely future behavior -- she has a lot of emotional imperatives that come from stress and fear and wanting a positive relationship with this person.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 7:38 PM
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322 -again, there's a misreading (my fault, I need to be more clear) what I have been saying and am trying to do in this discussion. I am not passing moral judgment on her for being insufficiently clear. Nor am I exonerating Anzari (except in the very limited sense that on my understanding of current law I don't think a court could reasonably find that he conducted criminal sexual assault, which is a fairly narrow point). That is the stupidity and misunderstanding generated by this kind of microlitigation. I agree with both 321.1 and .2. I agree with 316.2. What I am trying to get at isn't at all a moral condemnation of Grace but (to the extent I'm trying to say anything) to question the contractarian theory of casual sex as a whole. I am not condemning Grace for not contracting better and more clearly for the kind of sex she wanted. To the contrary, the fact that it is ridiculous to thinknin those terms points out the limits and inadequacies of the contractarian theory of casual sex as a whole, which is where Instart and end on this.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 7:51 PM
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I dunno, I think you might be misreading me. I wasn't responding to a claim that she was insufficiently clear. I was responding to a claim that something about the story was "weird." To the extent it's weird to think that they're going to ramp down after everything that's happened, it's possibly because she's grasping for an increasingly unlikely outcome because it serves her emotional needs at the time.

you say: I guess the key weirdness for me is this -- expecting it to just be a normal watch TV and hang out and chat evening when you've started out in the apartment receiving oral sex (and then have more oral sex later). It's not just a blanket consent issue -- it's the weird assumption about how the next step in the night would proceed. Nor does it really make sense as a "he's not who I thought," again because of how theybstart out. Maybe I'm out of touch and the Swedes and millenials these days start out dates with some oral sex, then if they're not feeling it go out for some frozen yogurt and watch Seinfeld reruns together on the couch.

If anything, I'm sort of agreeing with you. That expectation is irrational, given everything that's happened, but it's irrationality that itself is driven by everything that's happened.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 7:58 PM
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Oh boy. 323 was supposed to go to 321 and to LB. Apologies Tia. Here is the response I was just writing to 322-

Yes that makes perfect sense, and seems right. And again points out the problem with thinking about these affairs in terms of contracts and agreements and breaches of them. Clear theories of (and manifestations of) consent as a contract are necessary to use the legal system to punish sexual assault. But they are a really inadequate way of thinking through how these encounters actually play out in peoples' lives and why they are harmful. I feel like that is completely consistent with what you are saying.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 8:01 PM
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323 (and 325, I see you've expanded on this a little): Apologies for getting drawn back in, but I'm genuinely curious: what is the alternative (i.e. non-contractarian) theory of casual sex?

(I'd also note that the date that they went on didn't necessarily have to lead to "casual" sex. They met at an Emmy after-party and so Grace apparently moves in similar circles to Ansari, even if she doesn't have $20M*. It's not obvious why it couldn't have been the start of a relationship.)

*Then again, who knows? She lives in Brooklyn on a 23 y.o. photographer's earnings and gets invited to Emmy after parties, so I'm guessing that she is well-connected, through family or otherwise.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 8:05 PM
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This went on for an hour or so before one or other of us got off.

Doesn't anyone do 'phrasing' anymore?


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 8:23 PM
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326.1 - There's volumes to be written on that and I don't truly know, but, basically, as an ideal, empathetic regard for the other as a fully valuable person and not an object; as a practical matter, thinking about the many ways we fail to live up to that ideal and realistically behave. I think a contrat theory of sex fails both normatively and descriptively.

And I should say the problems with a contractarian theory of sex aren't limited to casual sex -- I wasn't saying anything in particular that hinges on whether they would form a relationship.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 8:29 PM
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327 made me laugh.

328: Many thanks. I need to think about this, and how in practical terms it would differ from the contractarian view. My immediate response is that my view of the situation would remain unchanged, but harder to articulate - and further, that I disagree about the value of the contractarian approach - but I've been very present in this thread so I'll log off for today and think this over.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 8:40 PM
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Rather than the requirement be to say no, the requirement is to elicit a yes, verbally or otherwise. . . . But, assuming Grace never verbally expressed her lack of consent and just implied it with body language, Azari's behavior would be considered to be rapey (though perhaps not rape) by contemporary sexual mores.

This sounds like progress, and I'd love to believe that standard is widespread and consistently held. But I am skeptical that all millennial not only say that they hold those views but actually apply them.

Here is a 29yo woman in the WaPo article about bad sex mentioned above:

Christine: The real question that we should maybe be asking is: If these women didn't say no and they wanted to, what is keeping them from saying no? What didn't they learn or what sort of lesson has disappeared from our discourse that makes it possible for this to happen? Because surely it can't fall on just the participants -- there's a societal component to how we learn about what we're supposed to do, in sex and elsewhere.

...

I think it's odd and problematic how consent has become the one last line that makes things either okay or not okay. As long as someone says yes, we're good to go, and we'll keep ratcheting things up and up until the other person says no.

But consent is an incredibly gameable and shifting boundary! And the fact that legal liability is our boundary -- well, I didn't criminally assault this person, so this seems fine -- that doesn't seem like a great ethic of sex to me. It disregards huge parts of the human experience and ignores the question of what compels us to agree or disagree to something.

I don't say that to disparage millennials, just to say that negotiating sexual relationships is (often) difficult, and I find it hard to believe that the next generation has managed to just do away with large chunks of that difficulty*.

* I also think that there's no inherent reason why recognizing what the other person does and does not want in the moment should be a large part of the difficulty, but I just doubt that's a solved problem.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 9:39 PM
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I'll also say that 291/2 seem correct and like a good description of the events. Separately I also appreciate 328.1 as a broad way to frame the issue.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-29-18 9:42 PM
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Two comments: I completely share Halford's suspicion of the ideal of humans as contractarian bonobos. I just don't think that most or even many people are wired like that, although I quite see that their wiring in this sense depends a lot on societal expectations and norms. The whole idea of enjoying sex with or without guilt is an acknowledgment that there is always an invisible audience to these apparently private acts.

Secondly, and mostly curious about responses. I wouldn't say I grew up before porn: as a child briefly in Stockholm in the late 60s I was there for the liberalisation of the law and remember vividly the shocking delight of coming upon the newsagent's kiosk in Norrmalmstorg to find a full colour photograph of a cunt at eye level when I was about 12. Undreamed of delights! But most of the education I had about sexual intercourse came from books, and especially earnest American novels which were quite fixated on orgasm. Not just Norman Mailer. But I entered my adolescence with the idea that sex had as its goal of a giant transcendent moment in which all the mysteries of the universe would be unravelled, relationships would be transformed, women transfigured into devoted, understanding slaves who were also somehow companions, your whole live would be validated -- and it would feel pretty good too.
And looking back I don't remember ever having a Norman Mailer orgasm, or even a Mary McCarthy one out of The Group. Possibly the whole idea is incomprehensible to people who didn't come of age (sorry) in the early seventies.
But one of the consequences of that kind of upbringing was that sexual intercourse was something like a black run ski-ing -- once you launched yourself on it, you couldn't stop until the end.
Buttercup seems to be describing something much more like riding a bicycle: there are brakes and you can always climb off and push for a while if you get tired, or even stop for a cup of coffee.

Obviously, sexual desire can come in both forms (and, for the avoidance of doubt, in both men and women) but it seems to me that one or the other will be culturally dominant at any moment, and one source of pain and misunderstanding would appear when a bicyclist gets matched up with an olympic skier.

one odd paradox occurs to me. We associate bicycling sex with contracts, which are means of disambiguation in situations where neither party can completely trust the other. But actually it requires much more trust than black run skiing sex, where there is no turning back after the moment of launching, and both parties know that. So bicycling sex demands much more intimacy and sensitivity, yet it seems to be held up as a model for interaction between relative strangers where both these things are most likely to be lacking.


Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 12:52 AM
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The alternative to typing here is work, so one last question:

Instead of wild fluthering about generations based on birth date, wouldn't it be more informative to ask which cultural products shaped your view of sex as an adolescent? Films, books, whatever. Several people have mentioned SATC. I had novels, both good and bad. What else?


Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 12:56 AM
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I have thought about 333's question a lot. I read a ton of gay men's AIDS novels, which balanced fear and a certain exuberance plus probably destigmatized oral and anal sex compared to peer norms. Somewhere in TFA is the sad but true story of responding to my HS girlfriend's insistence that she didn't even know what two girls could do together by reading aloud from a novel I happened to have out from the library, after which things suddenly became much clearer.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 6:14 AM
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Except I don't think this is skiing sex. That would imply both are sliding down a hill when in this case it is one person trying to get the other off the lift. It's more like "shady used car dealer" sex, trying to stop the other person from having time to think during a high pressure sales pitch.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 6:25 AM
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335 to 332.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 6:27 AM
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333: Unfortunately, lads mags and the early explosion of internet porn, which probably wasn't the healthiest combination. I read a lot too, but the only novels I remember that dealt with sex seriously were my parents' Eric Jong books. They at least provided a female perspective (including the reality of female desire).


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 6:36 AM
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332: If we're going all in on violating the analogy ban, think of it like dancing. If your partner told you that they were tired and their feet hurt halfway through, why on earth would you insist that they finished the song with you, instead of walking off the dancefloor to sit down and have a drink together?


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 6:38 AM
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(337: Erica Jong, obviously)


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 6:40 AM
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333.last is a good question and would make a good FPP.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 6:59 AM
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If your partner told you that they were tired and their feet hurt halfway through, why on earth would you insist that they finished the song with you

meet

Sometimes people smell bad, and if you're going to be intimate with someone you're going to have to deal with their bad smells just like you're going to have to deal with them looking less made up in the mornings and on days off. If you can't handle that, you need to train yourself.http://www.unfogged.com/archives/comments_16272.html


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 7:04 AM
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What a weird discussion! Here's a simple question: what does the entire encounter look like if Ansari genuinely cares about her emotional comfort? Very fucking different! He's not a kid, and he's not an idiot. You can tell if someone is into it. You can tell if someone is into it while they're blowing you. It's not a brain-altering sex-slave-forever-no-takebacks oath. He just didn't care. The rest just seems like chaff and chatter (not that I, the erstwhile proprietor of this fine eclectic magazine, could ever take issue with those things).


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 7:13 AM
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My feet hurt at night. My ankles hurt in the morning.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 7:14 AM
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Ogged speaks truth.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 7:16 AM
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He does indeed.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 7:31 AM
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I'm just glad to have the old sputtering, microlitigating Halford back.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 8:27 AM
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322: "wanting a positive relationship with this person"

And that was apparently never on the table, nor on the countertop. I'm at least partly with Halford in finding it odd that she held on to this notion for so long. Tia's posts go some way to explaining the mindset involved.

What he apparently wanted was never on the table either, and he's the bigger jerk for pursuing it anyway, for not caring even enough to say "This isn't going the way I want, you should leave."


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 8:29 AM
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"shady used car dealer" sex

A fetish I hadn't heard of before.

342 is right.

re: 332: I didn't come of age in the 70s (was a teenager in the 80s), but a lot of those mid century Great Male Narcissist novels were on the bookshelves at home, and boy did their view of sex seem fucked up. Even learning about sex from internet porn is probably healthier than learning from Philip Roth and Norman Mailer.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 8:39 AM
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Nobody actually read a whole Philip Roth or Norman Mailer book.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 8:41 AM
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for not caring even enough to say "This isn't going the way I want, you should leave."

This is a nice point -- there's a lot of discussion on how she should or could have been clearer in communicating her non-consent and unhappiness. But I haven't seen anything talking about his responsibility for being clear about how the only reason he wanted her in his apartment was to get fucked, and if she wasn't up for that she should get out.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 8:51 AM
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342-347 Yeah.

It wouldn't shock me if it turns out that he thought he was irresistible, that therefore her resistance was an act (a game, if you will), and that just a little more "play," and she'd convert. This, of course, is the mindset that must be defeated.

It's interesting that there haven't apparently been other similar accounts. Maybe this attempt at a sex-only one night stand with a 10+ years younger admirer was an experiment to see if he could be the kind of guy who does pulls that off (as so many show business people seem to be). Sure, he's kind of old to be experimenting, but life's path is seldom a straight line. He surely never considered her his equal in any respect at any moment ever: do stars ever think of groupies that way?

(I have run into Jeff Bridges' courtship story a couple of times in the last year. Different beginning, different ending, and maybe the different zeitgeist is a big factor in that.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 8:53 AM
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He surely never considered her his equal in any respect at any moment ever: do stars ever think of groupies that way?

Her status as a 'groupie' is really ambiguous. That is, they met at a party where they were both invited, and went on an ordinary date like equals do. "Groupie" makes me think of someone going backstage after a show, or getting pulled out of an autograph line. I'd agree that he didn't think of her as an equal, but I don't know that it's inherent in the structure of the encounter that he wouldn't.

On the lack of similar accounts, that is kind of odd. Mostly, I'd expect that where there's one story like this, there are lots. But I don't know what to think about it specifically in this case.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 9:03 AM
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(351 last: he hits on a gal working at the hotel he's staying at [Chico Hot Springs!]. She rebuffs him, saying his kind is just notching bedposts. He says no, he's real, and does some kind of courtship stuff over a period of time before she agrees to go out with him. Still married 40+ years later.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 9:03 AM
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350: his responsibility for being clear about how the only reason he wanted her in his apartment was to get fucked, and if she wasn't up for that she should get out

Maybe because this is still not seen as an acceptable desire for him to articulate so nakedly?


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 9:16 AM
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Or she ditched her date at the party to approach him all star struck, having found an excuse to make conversation with the award winning star. Starting at his apartment, rather than at the restaurant, is a lot more like a 'we're going to hook up eventually, let's see if she wants to do it first' than 'hey maybe there's enough in common here to have a genuine relationship, let's talk about stuff over dinner like an ordinary date' kind of vibe. But then I'm old.



Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 9:17 AM
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Instead of wild fluthering about generations based on birth date, wouldn't it be more informative to ask which cultural products shaped your view of sex as an adolescent? Films, books, whatever. Several people have mentioned SATC. I had novels, both good and bad. What else?

I honestly have no idea. Never enjoyed reading or watching things about sex. The only things I remember reading were Joseph Wambaugh's "The Choirboys" and a New Yorker excerpt from "Sabbath's Theater". Both of which consisted of so much joyless depravity that I simply could not turn away, reading for shock value, like watching a cannibal movie. And some depressing YA novels from the 70s and 80s.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 9:18 AM
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356: really? I thought "The Choirboys" was hilarious.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 9:20 AM
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The characters certainly found each other hilarious. Not me. I did like the nicknames.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 9:23 AM
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Well, it's not so much taboo, as it is hard to find partners who are into it -- if even a famous guy chats up a woman at a party and says "How about we go back to my place and fuck and then you get out", it's not impossible that he's going to find someone who's into it, but it's probably going to take a great deal of effort on his part, and he'd have an easier time hiring a professional.

His whole approach is contingent on implying that they're on a ordinary date that's going to be characterized by an ordinary level of attention to mutual pleasure and an ordinary level of social respect between equals -- that's what going out to dinner beforehand implies, as does the stuff he said about how "if it's not good for you, it's not good for either of us." If he was straightforwardly honest about what he'd wanted, she'd have been very unlikely to have gone for it.

Now, given the whole story, he's so transparently dishonest that she's being judged (maybe not morally, but as oddly confused or slow) in having related to him as if they were really on the ordinary date he was pretending to be on, rather than the "groupie getting fucked and getting out" event that he actually wanted. But I think it's useful pointing out that his implicit dishonesty about the type of encounter this was isn't a fact of nature, it's something he did deliberately because he knew he'd have a very hard time finding a woman who wanted exactly what he wanted.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 9:28 AM
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359 to 354.

To 355: Starting at his apartment, rather than at the restaurant,

This is something where you're seeing a cue that I completely missed, if it's there. A date where you meet the guy at his place before going to a restaurant is a strong signal that it's an impersonal fuck rather than a possible relationship? I'm not saying you're wrong, because that specifically is not clicking for me as meaning anything at all. Does that work for anyone else?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 9:31 AM
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I like the skiing - bicycling/dancing analogy. I was thinking of the first way as an amusement park ride--once you're belted in, there's no going back until you're done, and you have to go through all the stages--kissing, oral, penetrative, in order (or whatever order it is).

I do think that we're in the midst of a sort of watershed moment when it comes to sexual attitudes in the US that does map onto large changes in pop culture more generally (obviously broad social trends don't encompass everyone), but to be convincing I'd probably have to provide the sort of detailed analysis and data that is way beyond any work I'm willing to do in a blog comment.

My first memory of reading about graphic sex was the Thornbirds, which I read at age 9 or so after watching the miniseries with my dad. What I most remember is the scene where one character sucks the main characters nipples as a sexual act, because to 9-year-old me that was mind blowing. I didn't have any exposure to porn--there was tons of casual nudity around, but it wasn't all that sexualized. I used to draw my own porn on a chalkboard in my bedroom when I was about 15, except I had to rely solely on my own knowledge of sexual mechanics which was pretty much zero.

I grew up watching sex in movies, we watched a lot of French sex farces (e.g. The Birdcage, The King of Hearts) when I was young enough that my father had to read the subtitles out loud for my sister and I to follow. When I was about 5-6 I remember watching Cabaret, which sort of fascinated and traumatized me and I which I couldn't really follow. I also watched Black Adder a lot as a kid, and in retrospect most of the sexual innuendo went way over my head.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 9:33 AM
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I'm pretty sure that learning about sex from watching Black Adder is the best way to learn it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 9:35 AM
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....and you have to go through all the stages--kissing, oral, penetrative, in order (or whatever order it is)

First you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the women.


Posted by: Opinionated Tony Montana | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 9:36 AM
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My own sex life does consist mostly of a series of cunning plans.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 9:36 AM
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And involves the frequent incursion of a young Hugh Laurie.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 9:39 AM
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My first memory of reading about graphic sex was the Thornbirds

I misread that as "the Thunderbirds", which image is going to stay with me.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 9:41 AM
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361.2: I remain a bit skeptical about the idea of some sort of generational quantum leap forward in sexual attitudes/behaviors.

Maybe I'm just being unreasonably pessimistic in believing in some sort of law of conservation of shittiness, such that if younger peoples' behavior towards each other regarding sex looks less recognizably shitty to us oldsters, they've compensated by inventing new ways of being shitty.

But again, maybe I'm just being cranky.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 9:47 AM
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I think what people are missing is that it isn't about sex per se, it's about politeness. At the beginning of the evening, Grace and Ansari probably DID want the same thing, as broadly conceived: A date which ended in sleeping together. However, what Grace wanted was a "normal" date that followed standard politeness conventions, and Ansari just wanted a quick fuck. That's why she (as many others have pointed out), kept trying to turn the date back into what she wanted, because she thought it was possible and salvageable, whereas Ansari wasn't really interested.

This is what I think a lot of people are missing: it's not WHAT Grace was willing to do, it's HOW Grace was willing to do it. It wasn't just sex per se, it was the whole evening. He was rushing her and being rude about everything (hence the significance of pouring her white wine instead of asking what sort of wine she wanted. It's not indicative of anything other than Ansari wasn't interested in her preferences or in conforming to normal politeness conventions. Same with not letting her finish the wine at the restaurant: he was rushing her in a way that was rude.)

Think of it as, let's say I invite you over to my house for a dinner party. You have a script of how it goes: you come over, make chit chat, I offer you a drink from a range of beverages, maybe I put out a few hoes-d'ouevres, we make our way to the table, I top up your glass or offer you a new beverage, I serve the food, we chat over a leisurely meal, we sip wine, after a variable pause, I bring out dessert, and then maybe we have coffee or a dessert wine.

Now, let's say, you show up. I have a drink poured for you already and a plate of food made up that I shove in your face. You grab both of them awkwardly while I motion for you to sit at the table. I'm halfway through my meal. I bark at you to hurry up and finish because I'm almost done. You sit down and shove the food in your mouth because you're sort of in shock and don't know what else to do. Before you're even finished, I snatch the plate from you and dump a piece of dessert in front of you. You don't really want to eat it (not that you wouldn't want dessert, but you've barely digested your half-dinner, and the whole thing is so strange you're sort of put out). I grab a fork and start trying to feed you the dessert. You jerk your head away but I persist, like a parent feeding a toddler. You jump up, say you have to go, and leave. You're going to leave the even feeling gross and angry and sort of violated. It doesn't have anything to do with legality (it's not illegal to have a shitty dinner party), or with whether you were willing to eat or not, or whether you figured the dinner party was a precursor to me asking you to move in, or something. It was that you had a cultural script of how dinner parties go, and this deviated so far from that that it ruined the occasion.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 9:48 AM
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hoes-d'ouevres

Freudian slip?


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 9:52 AM
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368.2 is right in mentioning the wine. Some commentary has criticized that as weird, and unnecessary information, something amateurish to include, but it's relevant to the narrative.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 9:56 AM
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I think what people are missing is that it isn't about sex per se, it's about politeness.

I don't see anyone in the thread arguing that Asari wasn't, at the very least, EXTREMELY rude. I think the emphasis on sex is due to the question in 116, "... how does what she describes happened to her not unambiguously a case of sexual assault? " At that point I think people were taking the lack of politeness as assumed and focusing on whether the sex was sexual assault.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 9:57 AM
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But, if you wrote an article about Aziz Ansari being a jerk and not having a clue about throwing a dinner party would it be such a big deal?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 9:58 AM
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371: I think the point is that the rudeness lead to her changing a "yes" to a "no", making assault an issue.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 10:04 AM
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371

Well, people are talking about whether Grace wanted to have sex with him, or whether she thought she was going on a "date" vs. Ansari who thought he was getting laid. My point is that Grace very likely went into the evening expecting to have sex with Ansari. She knew that was likely what he wanted, and was willing to have sex with him when she accepted the offer. She probably changed her mind when she saw that he wasn't interested in much else besides using her as a hole, and she wasn't interested in that particular kind of sex. If he'd been polite and attentive and listened to her, they probably would have ended up having sex.

I think we all agree that Ansari was extremely rude and committed sexual assault but not of the type that is prosecutable as such, but I think people are missing what exactly Grace was so offended by.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 10:08 AM
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Or what 373 said.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 10:08 AM
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Right. Sex comes into it in a number of ways -- first, it makes the rudeness make sense. In the dinner party story, the rudeness is just inexplicable. In the context of sex, the hasty inconsiderateness is something that's understandably motivated. And second, having sexual contact you didn't consent to is a special category of offense, in a way that eating food you didn't want to eat under uncomfortable circumstances isn't.

(I've been emphatic enough about how poorly I think of Ansari's behavior that I feel like I should reiterate that I don't think there's anything in the story that could practically be prosecuted as criminal -- proving his state of mind beyond a reasonable doubt seems impractical. And I don't think his behavior is extraordinarily unusual. It's horrible, and I think that if you leave problems of proof to one side and evaluate it on the basis of what an ordinary person would have known in his place it does incorporate sexual assault at a level below rape. But it's not the kind of sexual assault that's particularly surprising or uncommon.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 10:13 AM
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if even a famous guy chats up a woman at a party and says "How about we go back to my place and fuck and then you get out", it's not impossible that he's going to find someone who's into it, but it's probably going to take a great deal of effort on his part, and he'd have an easier time hiring a professional.

In all seriousness, I don't think this is true. But here the LA contingent probably has specific knowledge.

I mean, maybe that exact sentence is too brash to get a positive response, but "why don't we get out of here and go back to my place?" is functionally very, very similar, and I bet would work on 1/3 of the non-famous women at most celebrity parties. Or maybe there really is a generational change there, but when you read stories about celebrity culture in the recent past, that sort of thing was ubiquitous. Steve McQueen (who was a horrible person) didn't pretend to go on dates-as-equals with women in order to get them in bed.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 10:16 AM
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364: How are the linguists?


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 10:16 AM
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I agree that it's worth talking about the rudeness, I was just quibbling with the phrasing of, "I think what people are missing is . . ." which seemed like an unfair summary of the discussion. Had you said, "I think it's worth emphasizing the way in which Ansari's rudeness altered the tone of the evening and Grace's reactions" I wouldn't have said anything.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 10:16 AM
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377: Oh, sure, I'm not committed to why he didn't make that kind of approach, maybe it works better than I think it would (and your phrasing is more normal sounding than mine, but gets the same point across). But it does seem indisputable to me that he didn't make that kind of approach -- he was performing the kind of sexual encounter people who are socially interested in each other have, rather than straightforwardly proposing an impersonal quick fuck.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 10:23 AM
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377: Yeah, I kind of doubt Wilt Chamberlain went on 20,000 dates.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 10:29 AM
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377 - I don't really know except when incidents rise to litigation level, but my impression is that there is huge variance based on milieu even for people who are equivalently famous. Groupies seem to basically no longer exist in the rock world but still do in hip hop and sports. They don't really seem to in film/TV. My belief (somewhat but not very firmly grounded) is that in the film world, even among comedians*, it would be seen as both socially demeaning to the actor and highly unusual to go to a party and just say "let's fuck"; that would create a reputation as being, basically, trashy. Serial girlfriends are fine.

*everyone here already knows comedians are horrible people in general, right? "I had a date with a comedian and he turned out to be a selfish, rude, predatory dick" is not very surprising, though Anzari specifically in his work seemed to cultivate a slightly different image. But unless you are Stephen Colbert's wife, as a rule never ever date comedians.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 10:31 AM
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They don't really seem to in film/TV. My belief (somewhat but not very firmly grounded) is that in the film world, even among comedians*, it would be seen as both socially demeaning to the actor and highly unusual to go to a party and just say "let's fuck"; that would create a reputation as being, basically, trashy.

It would be unusual because we have Tinder now, right?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 10:35 AM
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382 last: Because if you are Stephen Colbert's wife, comedians will treat you very well, because they want to be on your husband's show.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 10:38 AM
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380 I think he was at least as clear during the date about what he expected as she was. His entire course of rude and inappropriate conduct showed, from the very beginning, that he wasn't interested in a relationship with an equal, but in fucking her. She was kidding herself for a while with the idea that she could get him to care about her, then gave up.

I guess maybe New York semi-strangers meet at home and then go out. It sounds to me like maybe he thought they could fuck, and maybe she wouldn't even want to go for dinner.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 10:44 AM
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359/377: Or somewhere in between, where fairly on he says something like, "I thought you wanted to come back here to knock boots, but I see you're not really into it, so let's call it a night." Not the most charming behavior ever observed, but also not likely to get your story discussed at internet salons of legendary wit.


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 10:45 AM
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385.last And they could always order in Chinese. I mean NY, right?


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 10:46 AM
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I think he was at least as clear during the date about what he expected as she was.

I think that only works if you start from a baseline assumption that men are generally lying deceptive pigs who only want one thing, so a man sending any kind of mixed signals at all between whether something's a social encounter reflecting mutual liking or an impersonally selfish fuck is being clear that it's the latter. If you think men are people who sometimes do enjoy socializing with women out of mutual liking and attraction, his behavior is at the very least ambiguous.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 10:50 AM
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386: Right, that'd be a little disconcerting, and depending on the details a little rude maybe, but nothing anyone would hold against him much at all. But of course, in this case, that kind of straightforwardness would have meant his giving up on having sex with her.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 10:53 AM
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His entire course of rude and inappropriate conduct showed, from the very beginning, that he wasn't interested in a relationship with an equal, but in fucking her.

But it's not about relationship vs. fucking, it's about polite fucking vs. rude fucking. I very much doubt Grace thought a date with a famous man would lead to anything other than a one-night stand, but she wanted to be fucked by someone who acknowledged she was a person participating in a mutual act, not a hole to be fucked.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 10:53 AM
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I think a baseline assumption that men are generally lying deceptive pigs is only necessary, but not sufficient.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 10:54 AM
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The very first time he tries to overcome her resistance, she knows what he's doing. 'You guys are all the same.'


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 10:54 AM
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390 Exactly so, and his rudeness from the very start shows where he is.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 10:55 AM
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I'm not blaming her. She clung to an illusion longer, knowing what we now know, than she should have.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 10:58 AM
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392: Huh? She says that at the very very end of the evening.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 10:58 AM
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360: PUA literature recommends starting dates at your apartment if possible so she'll feel more comfortable going back there later. "I was already in there once, and he didn't assault me then, so it's Safe," goes the imagined thoughts of the woman.

368 and Tia's 322 are great summaries of the situation. I don't find her behavior weird at all. "Don't make me feel forced or I'll hate you, and I don't want to hate you" she already hates him at this point, but she's trying to restore normalcy/give him an out.


Posted by: torque | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 11:00 AM
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395 But she didn't learn about all the other guys during the date.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 11:02 AM
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389: that kind of straightforwardness would have meant his giving up on having sex with her

Precisely. And that's what he doesn't have sense enough to do.


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 11:05 AM
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Oh good grief. She reached for a cliche at the end of the evening when she'd figured out that he was committed to being a shithead. That doesn't make her an oblivious idiot for not having figured out that all he wanted was an impersonal selfish fuck from the first sign that his manners were imperfect.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 11:07 AM
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399 to 397, and 398 sounds right to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 11:08 AM
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PUA literature recommends...

If only Aziz had read The Game, he could have avoided all this.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 11:08 AM
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And yes, I know, you didn't call her an oblivious idiot. You just said that his course of conduct showed clearly what he wanted from the very beginning, and that she was kidding herself, and that she knew what he was doing from the beginning. You can call that all not judging her, but it doesn't sound like it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 11:10 AM
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401: No, it seems all too likely that he has.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 11:11 AM
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400: Comity!


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 11:20 AM
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I confess to still being interested in how Halford and NickS (and maybe some other posters?) see contemporary norms around consent as contractual, in a negative sense, rather than basic good manners and an essential first step in treating someone like a whole human being and rather than an object (the stated rationale for abandoning a contractarian view)*.

I'm pretty exhausted by the microlitigation too - it seems very obvious to me what happened, and Grace's reaction seems very natural - and I don't think it will be possible to get to comity on that without having the wider conversation.

*This is a good faith reading on my part of earlier posts, so if I've mischaracterised the argument, I'm sorry and please point me in the right direction.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 11:24 AM
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Not oblivious, optimistic. Not an idiot.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 11:25 AM
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405 - that's not my view. If you're focused on politeness and care, you're already not thinking contractually. I don't think current "norms" around consent undermine that approach or a bad thing (obviously, consent is a necessary first step to thinking about how to treat someone well). I think you are picking a fight no one, at least me, is trying to have.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 11:30 AM
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Or *are* a bad thing.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 11:31 AM
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Put differently, thinking about consent is not a problem, at all. It is a problem if your *only* thought about appropriate behavior is framed in terms of consent, contracting, and bargaining.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 11:33 AM
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We all seem to agree that, for better or for worse, criminal prosecution isn't a possibility in this case. So, what kind of consequences should there be? Should his show be cancelled? Should actors refuse to work with him? Or...


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 11:35 AM
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Should this blog be burned to ashes?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 11:38 AM
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410

It seems like everyone knowing he's a shithead is the natural and appropriate consequence. I don't particularly think he needs "real world" consequences, but I wouldn't be surprised if he finds it much harder to get a date.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 11:39 AM
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411: Yes.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 11:40 AM
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NickS at 330 is a really interesting comment and gets most of the way there - of course "consent Y/N" doesn't encompass the whole of human sexual experience. But nobody (in this thread) is being that reductive. It's a basic standard of behaviour that much of the population hasn't internalised yet, and until we get there as a culture, there's no point having the rest of the conversation - you're complaining about the meat being a little overdone at Buttercup's dinner party, rather than addressing the host cramming it into your mouth.

Recognising what the other person does and doesn't want in the moment isn't a solved problem* as NickS points out, and hopefully articles like the one under discussion and conversations like this help to move the, er, the Overton Orifice? to a place where people [men] are bothering to ask themselves that question. That would help to avoid both Ansari-type situations, and also the situation described in the WaPo quotation, where men expect to be climbing some kind of ladder of increasingly outre sex acts until told to stop.

*Although I've had success with the following technique: ask them


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 11:40 AM
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People should think he's not a good person, and deal with that as the spirit moves them? I enjoyed his Netflix show. I probably wouldn't have if I'd heard this story first. That's not a boycott, just a matter of personal taste.

Multiply my reaction by the entire viewing audience, correcting for how common my reaction is compared to other possible reactions, and it might affect his career. But that's not really calling for consequences to be imposed, just noting that if your career is contingent on people thinking you're likeable, treating people poorly is going to screw that up for you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 11:41 AM
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412: That's what I was thinking.

Of course, people knowing he's a shithead could have very bad consequences for his career. My sense is that a lot of his success had to do with seeming to be a nice guy. But I could be wrong, as I never thought he was funny.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 11:44 AM
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407-409: Thanks! I wasn't picking a fight, and that makes a lot of sense. As I said in 414 (before seeing your responses), consent is a minimum standard, not a maximum. If 409 is the contractarian view, I don't think that anyone here is trying to defend it, and agree that we're talking past each other.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 11:44 AM
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"If only Aziz had read The Game, he could have avoided all this."

That's the thing, I think he did. "One step backward, two steps forward" is straight out of the "anti-LMR" manual. The Babe piece is if nothing else a powerful indictment of that whole philosophy.


Posted by: torque | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 12:10 PM
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403, 418: I was being sarcastic in 401.

I only know the PUA literature at second hand from hearing other people talk about it. But yes, my impression is that systematically boundary pushing is part of the program. Although I would have thought they would suggest something more subtle than what happened here. I'm not going to consult The Game to find out, though.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 12:18 PM
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Systematically = systematic.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 12:19 PM
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My beef with how it gets framed (not necessarily specifically by anyone here) is that we're talking about adult interactions that most people don't have problems with in any other situation, but somehow sex is held apart. The dinner party example is ridiculous because no one would actually do that, outside of maybe a Fawlty Towers sketch. All socially competent adults are trained to interact with other people through reading a series of verbal and nonverbal cues and then stopping when it appears the person isn't interested in continuing the interaction. If it gets to the point where you have to very overtly cut someone off, the other person is interpreted as a boor and antisocial jerk, and there are social consequences.

What I find disingenuous is that people perfectly able to read social cues at a cocktail party or a meeting or a classroom suddenly find it impossible to recognize those same exact cues in a bedroom situation. Of course there's always room for misreading and misinterpretation in any social situation, but by and large, socially competent adults manage to get through a variety of situations in daily life just fine, without committing massive amounts of gross social faux pas. I really don't see why sex should be considered in any way different. (If anything, if the emotional stakes are higher, people should be more in-tuned to what the other person wants.)


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 12:33 PM
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I think this also gets at, in part to Peep's question, which is what are the stakes of "rude" sex. The stakes aren't really all that different from the stakes of rudeness anywhere else. Sometimes it's meaningless, sometimes it's a career or relationship killer. What the #metoo movement isn't asking for (as I see it now, but I'm prepared that it might go too far) is that any man whose behaved poorly in the bedroom be thrown in jail. What it's asking for is that the same politeness standards that apply elsewhere also extend to the bedroom, and that men who violate them face the social consequences of being rude.

If you asked Ansari for an autograph and he slapped your paper out of your hand and stepped on it and then physically berated you, you'd think he was a rude jerk, and it would be well within your rights to make that story public. Maybe it would affect his career, maybe it wouldn't, but it would probably color how people thought of him. This sex story is, to me, of a similar type of behavior, and ought to have similar consequences.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 12:38 PM
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To be fair, the paper says, "Attempted Rapist Please Sign Here".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 12:49 PM
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421 "adult interactions that most people don't have problems with in any other situations". It's interesting to think about some other situations where this is not the case. The first thing that comes to mind are the "charity muggers" soliciting donations on busy streets - their whole schtick is in completely ignoring the many, many nonverbal cues that people are trying not to interact with them. Sales in general has a bit of this, trying to exploit the customer's instincts to have a normal social interaction, but the PIRG types are especially egregious.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 12:50 PM
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Oops, I meant verbally berate. Physically berate would be an assault.



Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 12:51 PM
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Ask if it's OK. Don't be the PIRG salesperson of your dorm.


Posted by: Opinionated College Brochure | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 12:53 PM
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411. SMoD?


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 1:04 PM
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411 Fuck no, please. I need and cherish it. Burn this post if you must though.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 1:06 PM
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335 to 424


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 1:19 PM
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I confess to still being interested in how Halford and NickS (and maybe some other posters?) see contemporary norms around consent as contractual, in a negative sense

I don't necessarily see those as mutually exclusive. I'd say that trying to treat partners with respect and open communication is compatible with a variety of analogies that could be used, including contractual language.

But, of course, various analogies will have strengths and weaknesses. What I appreciated about Halford's comments in explicitly raising the question of how we decide what language we use because I, like many people here, default to contractual-ish language. But that isn't perfect.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 1:37 PM
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I've been reading this thread with interest, so I really don't want the SMoD to get it. One thing that occurs to me is that if he was "Joe Ansari" things would have been very different. We all watch performers on TV and in the movies, and by doing so think we know them. We read about and laugh at people who think the actor is the character they play, but a lot of people think William Shatner is Captain Kirk. With comedians, who don't quite so obviously play a character, it's probably especially easy to slip into this fallacy.

At some level, Grace probably thought she "knew" Aziz and felt comfortable with him, but she actually didn't know him. If "Joe" had asked her back to his apartment on what was essentially the first date, she would have been more wary. As a BB, I can remember when (much as we wished they would) women rarely did that, especially with someone they had just met. That's a thing that appears to have changed in the last forty years.

His expectations of the encounter and hers were similar (sex), except that her expectations included that Aziz Ansari is actually the "Aziz Ansari" he plays on TV. Obviously he isn't. She probably didn't have the option of getting to know him better before they had sex, because he probably wouldn't have had the patience for that. The outcome would have been better for both of them.

I'm not by any means blaming her, but given the p(asshole) for a given guy you don't know, what with the p(asshole) for the whole population of men, her odds were worse than she thought. He deserves what he's getting from this. Someone wondered earlier if he's done it before, but I wonder whether he's learned his lesson, or will just chalk it up to "bad luck."


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 1:44 PM
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Technology has the answer to all these problems of course. And you come out with an employable skill, not just an orgasm.


Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 2:08 PM
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It's also possible he's generally not like this. I think his transition from "guy you've heard of" to BIG STAR is pretty recent, as is his being single. So he's probably working out the whole sex-with-groupies thing. So if there aren't other stories like this, then probably what should happen to him is not much. But if it's a pattern, then Gitmo, lemon chicken, the whole bit.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 2:13 PM
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Oh, huh, I am completely innocent of Hollywood gossip. He's recently single for the first time since getting famous? That would absolutely be a recipe for being an uncharacteristic dick. Still makes this incident ghastly, but more plausibly not a general pattern.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 2:16 PM
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In 2014, Ansari was in a relationship with professional chef Courtney McBroom.[40][41] He has self-identified as a feminist, saying his girlfriend has helped influence him. Ansari also incorporated an episode about feminism titled "Ladies and Gentlemen" in Master of None. In an interview in 2015, he spoke about the episode's meaningfulness to him saying "I thought it was interesting that this is happening, yet so many people are unaware of it. And the problem is people aren't talking about it. What I've learned, as a guy, is to just ask women questions and listen to what they have to say. Go to your group of female friends and ask them about times they've experienced sexism at their job, and you'll get blown away by the things they tell you."[42][43] In January 2016, it was reported Ansari and McBroom ended their relationship after two years of dating.[44]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aziz_Ansari#Personal_life


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 2:28 PM
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At least he's a feminist.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 2:29 PM
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436: Chicks dig that.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 2:37 PM
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I'd be trying to work out this thread whether there was a non-awful way to say 433-434. When people are first trying something out it can be easier to fuck up in ways that are still bad and not ok, but maybe more understandable. Like someone who's first trying to learn what are ok ways to flirt with people at parties are more likely to end up being kind of a jerk than someone who has been at it longer. (Now hopefully if one's a good person who cares about people you notice that you're being kind of a jerk when it's still at a low level not like in this Ansari story.) Definitely there's one or two times at parties when I was 23 when actually I was kind of a jerk trying to make a move on women who made it pretty clear it was unwanted, and that's not ok and I feel bad about it. (To be clear I'm talking about like putting an arm around someone or dancing too close, not anything like the Ansari story, but still behavior that was wrong.) But that only happened in a small period of time when I was first trying to learn how to flirt at parties. Which doesn't it any way make it ok, but it's not something that ever happened after a small window. And I feel like getting famous would mean having to work all that out again. As a famous person suddenly there's a lot more possibilities out there for people wanting to have sex with you because you're famous, and there's a possibility that you can be kinda selfish about it without upsetting anyone because they're at least getting a great story and a great conquest. And that when you're first working that out it's going to be easier to be an asshole about it. Which doesn't make any of it ok, but it makes it all make a little bit more sense. Now I think this particular stories details seem to make it clear that even with that caveat he clearly should have known better, but I think 433-434 are getting at something correct about the situation too.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 4:08 PM
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Like I think one should be able to navigate getting famous without doing something as bad as in this story. But it's sort of hard for me to imagine someone being single and famous and not having at least a case or two of being a pretty serious asshole to a hookup.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 4:12 PM
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I feel like there should be some neutral body, probably based in Sweden or Switzerland, to contact his ex and give her a prize for winning the break up. Because if I just sent her an email, it would be creepy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 4:14 PM
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The second photo in this article is such a great find for a breakup article.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 4:18 PM
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"she's the salad"? That's just a horrible thing to say about someone you're in a relationship with.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 4:29 PM
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"she's the salad"? That's just a horrible thing to say about someone you're in a relationship with.

Perhaps that's similar to the usage of, "salad days"


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 4:32 PM
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Seriously, do not date comedians.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 4:37 PM
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He's explicitly saying she's not any fun to be with like the women he used to date, but that's she good for him.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 4:40 PM
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He's explicitly saying she's not any fun to be with like the women he used to date, but that's she good for him.

Oh. That isn't good.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 4:50 PM
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I was thinking about some of the confusion here, and I think it might be because one of the many ways we're talking past each other is that some of us are talking about legal standards for sexual assault, and others are talking about cultural norms. I completely agree that no means no should be the standard for criminal conviction, because at some point, setting aside coercive situations, it is the role of the adult unwilling to engage in the activity to make that clear.* When it comes to cultural norms, however, I think the cultural norm should be enthusiastic consent, and people who clearly ignore the other person and their sexual desires should face the social consequences of such behavior.** To me it's in the same category as something like cheating on your pregnant wife with a bunch of 18-year old strippers, or kicking a puppy. It's not illegal, but it's a sign that you're a terrible person and if you make money from your reputation, it's likely that might suffer.
*Which Grace actually did, and which is why this particular situation crosses the line into sexual assault.
**Which is why the Cat Person situation was not rapey or even about lack of enthusiastic consent, because the woman involved to all intents and purposes was performing enthusiasm, and Cat Guy *was* stopping and checking in when she appeared less enthusiastic. I think it's a good example that not all bad sex or unwanted sex comes down to people being coerced by someone else.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 4:51 PM
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"She's the salad" -- that's an especially horrible thing to say about a pastry chef. He could have said, "I used to enjoy Skittles, but once I had crack pie.... She's my crack pie."


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 5:46 PM
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You don't win friends with salad.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-30-18 6:26 PM
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450

I wonder if part of his awful behavior was out of a twisted sense of his own self-image as socially aware. If he was honest with himself that he was just looking for a quick fuck, he might have just said that, and kicked Grace out when she wasn't interested. Instead he tried to act out the form of a date in fast forward.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 1:07 AM
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Millenials' theorizing about how much more socially aware they are than previous generations is pissing me off. LGM had a thread about the "School of Rock" movie, and someone actually argued that we didn't know sexism was wrong in 2002, so it was unreasonable to judge it on that basis. (If anything in music we have retreated from the heights of equality that we had in the mid-90s. There were famous women musicians in the 90s, and we have returned to the 60s norm of women singers and songwriters, and that's it.)

The understanding of trans issues is completely different now than when I was in college, but the cis-politics around gender and sexuality are exactly where they were in 2015 (pre-Trump and MeToo). The standard Buttercup advances for consent was the standard of my peers in college. The Antioch sexual assault policy, which goes even further and requires explicit verbal consent at every step, was in 1991.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 1:27 AM
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I would like to push back on the idea that casual sex is "contractual", if anyone actually is arguing that (I'm not clear on whether anyone really thinks that). Casual sex can be a perfectly friendly interaction. It's still an emotionally intimate experience. Given that serious dating is a form of assortative mating, casual sex has gotten me to know kinds of people I may never have known otherwise.

Famous people sleeping with fans is fucked up, though, and all celebrities should be slapped into chastity belts.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 1:55 AM
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"Rapey" is a great word for Ansari's behavior.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 1:57 AM
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451
I'm not a millennial, really.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 8:10 AM
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(If anything in music we have retreated from the heights of equality that we had in the mid-90s. There were famous women musicians in the 90s, and we have returned to the 60s norm of women singers and songwriters, and that's it.)

I was trying to convince people of this and couldn't. We have absolutely gone backwards in terms of how a female celebrity can be respected without performing extreme femininity all the time.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 8:18 AM
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Can we blame millennials for that?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 8:18 AM
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451 is also missing my point (can't speak for LGM, but it was probably a really annoying thread). This isn't about feminism, sexism, or gender presentation, it's about bad sex. I would never in a million years argue that Italy is less sexist than the US, NOR that it is less about traditional gender role presentation.* but I would argue that Italians are able to have casual sex better than Americans. As a teenager in the 90s, I'd agree with you about gender. When I tell millennials I wore men's clothing not because I was trans but because grunge, they find it surprising. BUT, that really is here nor there when it comes to being in bed.

Setting aside that Antioch is an extreme outlier and not representative when we're talking about general cultural trends, the "explicit verbal consent" is precisely treating sex as a weird contractual thing outside of normal sociality. We don't demand that sort of thing for other activities, yet we manage to get through coffees without friends without feeling extremely violated.

I am not a millennial. I don't think millennials are #the wokestgenerationever. I do think that they are the generation near the forefront of a cultural shift in sexual norms. Which is precisely why Grace (a millennial) felt free to share her story of being violated by Ansari (not a millennial) and demand he be shamed.

*I think my mother-in-law, a feminist activist hippie, is actually embarrassed to be seen in public with me in Italy because I'm dressed and groomed so poorly.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 8:40 AM
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I don't really talk to millennials, yet alone about sex, but certain Antioch's policy was widely seen as an outlier at the time it came out.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 8:46 AM
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+ly


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 8:46 AM
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How is Ansari not a millennial?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 8:50 AM
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460: If we have learned anything from the analysis of generations over the last 5 years it's that those of us born between 1980 and 1985 are not in any generation.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 8:53 AM
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I can't figure out young people. I can't even figure out if my cousin's kid is an out lesbian but nobody in her family mentions this or if she just has a good friend and I'm applying a weird old-person standard that if two people buy a house together, they must be a couple.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 8:55 AM
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460

Some people argue Gen Y goes until 85, and Ansari was born in 83. But anyways, setting aside labels, I would argue that people born in the 90s represent the generational shift. Call it older and younger millennials, or Gen Y and Gen Y', or whatever.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 8:55 AM
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There's no such thing as "generation Y" it's a name that got completely replaced by millennial. Also Grace is just as arguably too young to be a millennial as Ansari is too old. (I'd say they're both squarely millennials, but neither has the stronger argument.)


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 8:56 AM
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I've been toying with the idea of sending this in as a guest post, but really it fits in just fine here.

Lots of things are changing faster than I would have guessed. Not fast enough, to be sure, but I may be more optimistic about our social trajectory than I've been since the early 80s. If we don't all get blown up by that tired old man we elected king.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 8:57 AM
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Like there's literally no wikipedia page for Generation Y because it redirects to Millennial.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 8:57 AM
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I think the word Millennial is now just going to be the word for people under 30. It used to mean people who were coming of age around the millennium. Then it was pushed forward because it seemed like there should be a gap between Generation X and Millennial. Now some people think it means people who were BORN around the millennium.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 9:02 AM
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When all the condoms failed because they were only made to account for two-digit years.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 9:04 AM
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I feel like the whole generations thing is complicated by the arrival of ubiquitous internet connectivity.

There's the usual classification of generations and then there's this big "Can remember a time before you could be online every waking moment vs can't remember such a time" split.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 9:05 AM
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People made fun of Antioch for being too contractual at the time. They make fun of it for being too contractual now. Nothing has changed.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 9:09 AM
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Wait, Buttercup is saying Antioch is completely normal now. That's the whole point. It's completely normal, for Millennials. Which does not include Aziz.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 9:15 AM
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I think Antioch's policy is better described as being "explicit" instead of "contractual". It wasn't "if you do this, I get to do this". "Contractual" sounds like the kind of situation where if one side has performed an action, the other side can't withdraw consent for some other action they agreed to.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 9:20 AM
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the "explicit verbal consent" is precisely treating sex as a weird contractual thing outside of normal sociality. We don't demand that sort of thing for other activities, yet we manage to get through coffees without friends without feeling extremely violated.

This gets at something that I've been thinking in a confused kind of way about Antioch College-level explicit verbal consent -- that what it really is is a safe harbor for a sexual aggressor who thinks 'reading signals' is hard. Everyone who says that super-explicit verbal communication about every last detail is weird and awkward is right, but normal people avoid the need for it (at the "May I touch your neck? Okay, then how about your upper arm now?") by communicating with the normal mix of some words, some body-language, some reliance on shared norms, and so on. And most people have absolutely no problem avoiding sexual assault that way, just like most people have no problem not jamming unwanted cake into a guests mouth, even if the guest doesn't say "No, stop" but instead awkwardly swallows the mouthful. Normal communication isn't that confusing or ambiguous.

But if someone takes the position that normal communication is confusing or ambiguous, and that's the reason why their sex partners end up feeling unhappy and violated, or saying that they were assaulted? That person always has a safe harbor to go to -- they can have all the sex they want without worrying about misunderstandings about consent, as long as they get Antioch-college level verbal consent for everything.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 9:20 AM
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I agree with 469. I really don't care what we're calling it, but there's a big difference between a 34 year-old and a 23 year-old that isn't just about inevitable life experience. Call Ansari a millennial and Grace a post millennial.

I used to identify as a millennial, back in the 90s, but now I don't, for precisely the reasons in 467 and 461. I didn't have a cell phone until I was an adult, my first email address was my college address. I had (have?) a Friendster account, and I remember the fall of the Berlin wall, and just barely, the Challenger explosion. The people colloquially referred to as millennials in popular media are younger than the kids I used to babysit.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 9:22 AM
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I can remember being blind-sided by the idea that I had to dial ten digits to get a local number. I could not figure out why my call wasn't connecting no matter how many times I checked my number.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 9:24 AM
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473 says what I've been trying to say but much better than I've been able to say it.

473 to 471.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 9:24 AM
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But if someone takes the position that normal communication is confusing or ambiguous, and that's the reason why their sex partners end up feeling unhappy and violated, or saying that they were assaulted? That person always has a safe harbor to go to -- they can have all the sex they want without worrying about misunderstandings about consent, as long as they get Antioch-college level verbal consent for everything.

Note, you might find the OP.1 link applicable to this line of thinking.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 9:28 AM
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And sometimes when we touch, the honesty's too much.

Do I have your permission to close my eyes and hide?

I would like to hold you till I die. May I do that?

If not, how about till we both break down and cry?


Posted by: Opinionated Dan Hill | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 9:31 AM
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If you get that, you're not a millennial.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 9:32 AM
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I also grew up in a working class city, which complicates things because I feel like I was raised about 20 years behind my peers. My generation was the forefront of the "helicopter" generation, but that wasn't something I experienced until I got to college. I ran around in a pack without adult supervision and I literally played in the street with broken glass. My hobby was petting stray cats (I got ringworm), and I would hang out with my single mid-30s male neighbor in his apartment when I realized I'd locked myself out as a latchkey kid.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 9:32 AM
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Following up on 477 (which might have been to brief) -- what I found interesting about that article was the perspective of somebody who is unable to read body language or normal social cues explaining why they have no patience for anybody else claiming that an inability to read social cues could be an excuse for, or create an "understandable" situation in which that person was violating somebody else's boundaries in a "rapey" way.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 9:34 AM
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Yeah, sort of. I mean, mostly I think that people who are claiming not to understand normal communication are just straight up liars who are fine with committing sexual assault -- Ansari 'apologizing' but claiming that he thought everything about the evening was just fine, apparently including the bit where she warned him that he was making her hate him? So for someone like that, the 'safe harbor' aspect of it is something I'm thinking of as including an implicit 'fuck you,' to the person who claims to need it.

But for someone with a real disability around communication, or even someone who's inexperienced and worried about misunderstandings, being absolutely explicit about verbal communication is a real way to be safe.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 9:35 AM
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But for someone with a real disability around communication, or even someone who's inexperienced and worried about misunderstandings, being absolutely explicit about verbal communication is a real way to be safe.

Yes, and that's interesting, but my point was that he was very much interested that people who are being jerks not try to use that as a "safe harbor" (without actually, you know, caring about the safety of their partners).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 9:38 AM
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people who are being jerks not try to use that as a "safe harbor" (without actually, you know, caring about the safety of their partners).

The referent of your 'that' is disability?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 9:40 AM
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Let me back up a second. I feel like I'm not good at reading many social situations -- just in an introverted geeky sort of way. That experience mostly makes me sympathetic to other people claiming, "I just misread the situation" because I'm aware of it as a thing that happens. At the same time, I wouldn't want to defend Ansari (say) on the basis of, "it was an understandable mis-understanding" but I feel like there are cases (not the Ansari case) in which that could be difficult line to draw.

I appreciated the article staking out the claim that it really isn't a difficult line to draw. Even if one is bad at reading social situations that shouldn't be an excuse for bad behavior.

An obvious thing to say, but I thought he said it much better and more strongly than I would have said it prior to reading his post.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 9:42 AM
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Generational discourse is so weird to me. It's like, we're all basically saying "get off my lawn" but each word needs a footnote because Sociological Rigor.

451: Yeah, I mostly agree with this. There was an era of Identity Politics™ and Political Correctness™ in the late 80s/early 90s. At the time, the emphasis was on how crazy radical professors threatened the Republic. We are now in another such era; the emphasis is on how crazy radical undergraduates threaten the Republic.


Posted by: dj lurker | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 9:42 AM
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The referent of your 'that' is disability?

No, I was trying to refer the person who maliciously exploits the situation (in the way that you're describing and is also described in the quotation in 330) claiming "I asked and they never said 'no'" (or something in that vein) as a defense.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 9:43 AM
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I have to go and do work, but hopefully that is enough to clarify.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 9:44 AM
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One more note; another reason that I pointed to that post is that if you want to articulate a standard which allows for super explicitness as a strategy by people who need it, while note allowing it to be claimed as cover by people who aren't acting in good faith his description of his experience as an autistic person doesn't precisely establish that standard but it does offer an example of thinking about it.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 9:53 AM
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Wait, how can "consent must be super explicit" get claimed as a strategy by people not acting in good faith? I've seen arguments that imply that non-consent must be verbal and super-explicit and repeated at each new attempted sex act or repeated attempt at the same sex act -- that seems to be the Caitlin Flanagan standard, roughly -- and in the absence of non-consent that's that explicit, it's a reasonable misunderstanding if an aggressor assumes blanket consent for everything. But I can't see a way for someone who wants to deniably commit sexual assault use "consent must be super explicit" for shelter.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 10:18 AM
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But I can't see a way for someone who wants to deniably commit sexual assault use "consent must be super explicit" for shelter.

I'm not sure it would technically qualify as assault, but I could see someone pushing/badgering the other person into a verbal "yes" while ignoring the fact that they are obviously uncomfortable.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 10:23 AM
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Sure, but the "consent must be super explicit" standard doesn't particularly help the aggressor there, it just doesn't successfully eliminate all possible classes of bad faith.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 10:24 AM
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I was mis-reading this part of your comment, "This gets at something that I've been thinking in a confused kind of way about Antioch College-level explicit verbal consent -- that what it really is is a safe harbor for a sexual aggressor who thinks 'reading signals' is hard. "

I took "safe harbor" to mean that they could try to game the system (in some way analogous to the description in 330) and then it provide them cover (meaning that it was a safe harbor from other people). Based on 490, I now think you meant that it was a safe harbor protecting them against themselves -- by following that standard they would prevent themselves from accidentally doing the wrong thing.

I may still be confused, but am I getting closer to understanding you?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 10:25 AM
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Yes, you're getting it now -- that someone who says "I know my date says I assaulted them, but in my defense ordinary sexual encounters are impossibly ambiguous, how could I have known they didn't want me to do what I did!" gets told "For people like you who find ordinary sexual encounters impossibly ambiguous, you had the option of availing yourself of the safe harbor of absolutely unambiguous verbal consent. If you want to have sex like most people do, on the other hand, the responsibility for resolving ambiguities without assaulting anyone is on you. Ambiguity isn't a defense."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 10:35 AM
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494: That makes sense, and I'm on board (and I think that's similar to the message of the quote, "'if you're getting mixed messages that means that some of the messages you're getting are telling you to stop").

The one practical difficulty is that convincing people that we should use that standard seems equivalent to convincing people of the, "counterfactual world where a reasonable man could be expected to understand 'Don't make me feel forced or I'll hate you, and I don't want to hate you' to indicate a state of non-consent to sexual touching".

In other words, I don't think your description of a "safe harbor" understanding of consent would help convince anybody who wasn't already convinced, but I think it is a helpful analogy for describing a way to think about consent.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 11:02 AM
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(And, really, I am doing work. I'm just waiting for somebody to get back to me at the moment)


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 11:02 AM
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I'm not thinking of it as an analogy, I'm thinking of it in the terms I stated in 494: if someone says that you assaulted them, the ambiguity of conventional methods of communication around consent should be no defense. If the situation was really ambiguous, there was no consent.

People capable of ordinary methods of communication don't need to adjust their behavior in response to this, because ordinary methods of communication aren't particularly ambiguous in general, and where they are it's not hard to clarify what's going on. People who find ordinary communication difficult, whether through some disability or for whatever reason, are responsible for sticking with absolutely unambiguous verbal consent to whatever extent is enough to protect them against innocent misunderstandings.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 11:11 AM
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Generation theory doesn't claim that everyone born between date A and date B is the same, but that there is a more or less predictable cycle in how the social pendulum swings -- but one that can be broken when society is broken. (I don't know, but I would guess that the theory would treat WWII very differently for German than for Americans.)

As the idea was conceived in the 90s, Millennials are supposed to be the most favored generation in the cycle, if not ever. Of course, every group is better than the hated-by-everyone Xers. (In shorthand, it's the difference between bringing in legalized abortion to prevent/minimize Xers, and then later helicopter parenting Millennials.) The great Boomer challenge is how to fuck over Xers without harming Millennials.

That's the theory, anyway.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 2:03 PM
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Did I complain here about the management training I attended a year or two ago where a Boomer trainer stood in front of a room of mostly Xers and told us exactly that: Boomers were in charge of everything now, and disliked and distrusted Xers, and they were going to hold onto power by refusing to retire until Millennials were senior enough to be leapfrogged over our heads. The tone was cheerful and informative, but the content was astonishingly hostile. There was a lot of "Wait, is she really saying that to us?" eye contact being made around the room.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 2:10 PM
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At least somebody warned you.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 2:12 PM
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498

Somehow "the Greatest Generation" didn't stick as a label for the WW2 generation over there.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 2:16 PM
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The "Grandpa sent us a card every year from Argentina" generation?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 2:21 PM
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Someone told them that we have as much collective antipathy for the Boomers, if not more, as the Xers do, right? Different in kind, yes, but not degree.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 2:21 PM
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499 Wow. Fuck them.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 2:23 PM
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Also, we're clearly viewing sex differently now. You have to be willfully obtuse to not notice that cultural norms have shifted around *this* particular topic just recently. Just compare Bill Clinton and Clarence Thomas to Al Franken and the million other powerful men who've been sexually harassing women for decades and are now suddenly losing their jobs. This isn't to say now is *better* across the board, or more feminist across the board, but by this particular metric, we have some sort of shift for the better. As someone who is just barely on one side of the shift but not fully embedded into American culture, it's been noticeable in my own experience.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 2:23 PM
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499 is kind of astonishing, to hear out loud. But I think it works as a generational power move because Gen X (or at least my exact part of it) is small, numerically: while birth *rate* has continued to drift downwards, the mid-1970s produced the numerically smallest cohort in a while (details).


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 2:40 PM
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We're viewing sex differently now, but the progress has happened in the wake of Trump. I think the it's a response to Trump -- Trump was the final straw of powerful assholes getting away with sexual harassment.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 2:43 PM
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You actually feel like part of a much smaller cohort in Pittsburgh. Because of the timing of the collapse of steel, people my age born in the area were very likely to have moved away with their parents during the 80s or to have left the area as soon as they graduated high school or college.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 2:48 PM
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507: Assholesis, Antiassholesis, and syntholesis.


Posted by: Opinionated Hegel | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 2:51 PM
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Why would anyone care what Xers think?

Maybe when it all sorts out, we'll realize that where Weinstein went too far was hitting on Millennials.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 2:54 PM
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507

Maybe Trump was a certain sort of catalyst, but there was a lot of stuff going on before. Just look at the mainstreaming of feminist bloggers in the 2010s, and the rise of "corporate feminism" sites like Jezebel. You can pick at them a lot, but they did a lot to shape young women's (under 30) view of appropriate attitudes towards sex, consent, and boundaries. This was a movement I tracked and followed myself in my own life. Zines (fringe) to blogs (niche) to mainstream media is the mainstreaming of what used to be fringe. When I was a teenager, there was 17 magazine and Sassy if you were edgy (I didn't know anyone who read it). There was MTV (if you had cable). There was American Pie and the A&F catalog in a brown paper bag (not that we had an A&F store in my city). Jimmy Kimmel started the Man Show when I was in high school. Accusing a powerful man of sexually harassing you was career and character suicide, and 23-year-old Monica Lewinsky was a predatory b*** seducing a 50-something year old president. You have American Beauty and Election about the power uppity teenage girls have over helpless adult men in positions of power over them. Those movies couldn't have been made in 2013. I'm not talking about what was happening in queer studies courses at Antioch or in a commune in Northern California, or even my own experience, which was an extreme outlier. The general national conversation around sexual assault, consent, and power has changed, and Trump is only part of that.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 3:11 PM
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501 I've mentioned before talking to German relatives in-law about the then-new WWII memorial in DC, including eavesdropping on vets telling grandchildren about their experiences (having never told their kids anything). Takes Germans some real time to get used to the idea of WWII as 'our civilization's crowning achievement.'

At least it used to be, until the war to preserve slavery started taking its place.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 3:23 PM
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Oh, good Christ. The Man Show was an edgy thing because it was backlash -- outside the then existing norms of discourse. Feminism at the level you're talking about with with sites like Jezebel was absolutely mainstream in the nineties, and really before that as well. It wasn't completely culturally dominant, but of course it isn't now.

I think you're looking at the difference between the cultural world you were exposed to as a teenager and the one you're in now as a grad student, and thinking that the world changed rather than that you found out about more of it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 3:26 PM
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(The world really has changed since the early nineties in terms of gay rights, and wildly more so than that on trans acceptance and rights. But on women's issues, we've been pretty stable for a long time on feminists calling for equality and all the things about sexual consent and so on that equality implies, and lots of people who aren't feminists not being sure about it.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 3:28 PM
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Also, I bet more people had cable then than do now.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 3:40 PM
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In addition to 513 and 514, both of which are true, some other things: while there have probably been some real and interesting changes (on net, in the aggregate) in attitudes to heterosexual sex between 1990 and now, those changes:

(A) haven't been unilateral in the same direction. If I had to guess (and this is a guess, not a strong claim) I would say that a roughly feminist attitude towards heterossexual relationships (put aside this fudge for now) was culturally more prominent in 1995 than it was in 2005, or in 2015. Even this avoids a distinction between what is culturally prominent and what is practiced, and where;

(B) applied across generations as much or more as within them. The #metoo stuff is largely, quite specifically, about actresses my age or slightly older being vocally mad about things that went down in Hollywood mostly (or more) 10-20 years ago; the Cosby accusations are being made by boomers.

Generational analysis, as almost always, is a pseudo-empirical crutch that obscures more than it clarifies.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 3:41 PM
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s/b more in 2015 than 2005.


Posted by: RH | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 3:43 PM
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We so need an edit function.


Posted by: RH | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 3:44 PM
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513

Just go back and consume some mid 90s pop culture, and you'll be surprised at what then seemed fine and now doesn't. Read Gloria Steinem on Bill Clinton and say nothing's changed.

The 90s were the tail end of the Reagan backlash against feminism, and young women who've grown up since then have different norms and expectations around sex.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 3:51 PM
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I feel like I've consumed enough mid-90s pop culture that I'd be acquitted by any jury if I beat the shit out of David Schwimmer.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 3:58 PM
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I'm leaning towards Buttercup's interpretation. I'd peg this:

Feminism at the level you're talking about with with sites like Jezebel was absolutely mainstream in the nineties

to the mid 2000's, with the rise of blogs. Academic feminism may have been there in the nineties, but I think blogs popularized it.

I've been thinking that last year's Women's March had an effect too. An abstract understanding that lots of people may also be feminist is fine, but standing in a crowd of half a million people chanting 'her body, her choice' gives more of a visceral feeling of support to people who are ready to speak up.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 4:02 PM
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522

I'd peg this

That's not something you heard often from heterosexual women back in the mid 90s.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 4:04 PM
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523

522: Can you share sample size?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 4:07 PM
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A gentlemen never tells.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 4:08 PM
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"Her body her choice" was literally a slogan from the mass-movement pro-choice movement of the 80s and 90s, which involved many hundreds of thousands of women.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 4:08 PM
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you'll be surprised at what then seemed fine and now doesn't.

I was an adult in the 90s. I remember them. Specific fashions about what pisses people off have changed, but have changed in both directions -- there's stuff that's common now that would have seemed weirdly retrograde then. I'm not arguing there have been no social changes between when I graduated from college and now, but there seriously has not been any kind of revolutionary new understanding of consent.

Even the difference between the phrasing "No means no" and "affirmative consent"? The new phrasing is better, and I like it, but it's not reflecting the exciting new idea that women should be actively desiring the sex they're having -- that idea has been around for a very long time. It's the outcome of a whole lot of lawyerly pushback against "no means no", where anti-feminists tried to read it as "Anything but a super-explicit no means okay". Those anti-feminists are still around, and are still arguing: the fact that better phrasing has been developed in response to them doesn't mean that they've gone away or that the nature of the argument has changed much.

Somewhere I saw an article describing part of what's going on around the Ansari thing as a conflict between 'Second Wave feminists like Caitlin Flanagan' who are supporting Ansari, and young feminists with a different and better understanding of sex and consent. And that's fucking moronic. Caitlin Flanagan's around my age (which is not part of the second wave), and she got her start denying that date-rape was a thing in the nineties. She may call herself a feminist, but no one else who is ever did. Actual feminists in her age bracket have had pretty much the same understanding around consent all along.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 4:08 PM
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525: I was, indeed, shouting those words in a crowd of hundreds of thousands of women in Washington DC sometime in the spring of 1989. (Maybe 1990?).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 4:09 PM
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There was an interesting piece in the Guardian the other day about how Woody Allen is finally beginning to receive his comeuppance through the #metoo movement, but somehow serial child rapist Roman Polanski is still a beloved elder statesman.

Polanski is the case where I really feel the need to separate the art from the artist. While I wouldn't care too much if his later work (Carnage, The Ghostwriter, The Ninth Gate, etc) had never happened because he'd been rotting in prison instead, Chinatown is still an all-time favourite.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 4:09 PM
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Polanski hasn't actually been in the news post-Weinstein, has he? I don't think he'd get the same reception if he was back in the spotlight now that he did in 2003. Woody Allen has a movie out, and Polanski doesn't. (Or rather, he did have a movie out last year but it's French and no one saw it.) He's not "news" and so no one is asking people to repudiate him.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 4:16 PM
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I feel like people kept trying to put Polanski in the news to say that liberals are horrible people with double standards, but on reflection it occurs to me that it was probably just the one guy at another (but not the other) place.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 4:20 PM
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529: The journalist in the linked article phoned former collaborators and asked them to repudiate him.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 4:26 PM
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In the before times, it came to pass that you had to be very, very careful about touching a woman's hair because it took a long time to make it look like that and because it was sprayed with some kind of rock hard plastic. Then, time was a man would have to guard his flannel shirts to women from stealing them. Then all the women started wearing leggings instead of pants. Then the radiation from the nuclear war turned some women into CHUDS.


Posted by: Future Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 4:35 PM
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Now, who wants the last of the femur?


Posted by: Future Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 4:44 PM
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528.1: I read that article and thought it was largely BS. Polanski isn't a beloved elder statesman. He has a small coterie of bitter end supporters among older A list actors and actresses. To everyone else he's "that child rapist who made some really good movies a long time ago".


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 5:37 PM
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There's a woman at the bar arguing in defense of the comedian, Trump, and sexism in the music industry. She's being refuted by a woman with 80s hair.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 7:48 PM
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Or maybe I had that backward..


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 7:51 PM
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If I were to argue along the lines of Buttercup's generational divide I might point out that millennials have brought with them a mainstreaming of racism, white nationalism, and anti-Semitism. Lot of millenials and younger at that Charleston march.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 8:10 PM
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I'm an early Gen-Xer and I never thought I would see a resurgence of anti-Semitism in my lifetime. The very idea was completely alien to me. The alt-right appears to be very much a millennial dominated movement.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 8:17 PM
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I mean as long as we're talking Generation Woke here.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 8:18 PM
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The Gen X guy who said "This is my lady friend Liz" to the bartender means out whole generation loses.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 8:19 PM
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But I am happy to hear that all those neo-Nazis are having lots of enthusiastically consensual sex, so, you know, kudos.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 8:40 PM
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Ilsa, She-wolf of the SS is a stickler about consent.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 8:46 PM
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I love it when people don't read what I actually write and instead argue against a straw man version.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 8:55 PM
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534: Everyone else including who?


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 9:00 PM
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537

Also,arguing young people led to Trump doesn't seem like a great path to go down. Sussing out the ages of neo-nazis doesn't seem very productive nor accurate, given my guess is that they age in dog years.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01-31-18 9:09 PM
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512: "the then-new WWII memorial in DC"

Which is a near-perfect example of the aesthetic of two of the three Axis regimes. It sure would have been nice if Boomers could have worked out their collective parental issues without screwing up the Mall.


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 02- 1-18 12:30 AM
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534: well, yes. 90% of the Grauniad's output is good to great, but the rest is essentially them trolling their own commenters, including much of the arts coverage and almost all the opinion section. They started doing it when they had that freak Milne on board, and they've kept at it because it gets traffic. It's not newsworthy and it's not particularly thoughtful; it's there to make you angry and bitter and depressed, and to encourage you to talk about it with your friends and make them angry and bitter and depressed. Best avoid it.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02- 1-18 2:59 AM
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The Guardian has an article that says that the Eagles are the left-wing teamin the Super Bowl, so they are the most legitimate news organization in the world now.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02- 1-18 5:32 AM
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547: I agree that the Guardian has a weakness for trolling its own readers (initially, in print, by employing columnists that they knew their readers would hate, like Julie Birchill; then later, when they realised a lot of their online commentators were actually quite rightwing, by publishing lots of stuff in the vein of "men should be banned from celebrating Christmas")...

...but I don't think that's what's going on here. This is a level-headed piece asking why Hollywood hasn't had its day of reckoning with Polanski, whose crimes are even less ambiguous than Allen's. Plenty of actors are now coming out and saying that they regret working with Woody Allen. The author of the article contacts collaborators of Polanski's, very few of whom will say anything negative about him at all, fewer still on the record; even in light of the recent revelations about his other child rapes, and the supposedly changed climate in Hollywood.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 02- 1-18 7:15 AM
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WRT the how did you learn about sex, I was thinking a lot of women, of all generations, learned about it through romance novels. And lo, a NYT article appeared...https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/20/opinion/sunday/romance-novels-sex-ed.html


Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 02- 1-18 10:34 AM
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I can't wait for all the Chuck Tingle readers asking their mother if marriage is like with the dinosaurs.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 1-18 11:28 AM
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"Before you got married, did you ever get pounded in the butt by an anthropomorphized abstract concept?"


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 1-18 11:44 AM
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"If yes, have you been tested since?"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 1-18 11:45 AM
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Kind of on topic because of established star doing horrible things: Robert Wagner is now officially a person of interest in Natalie Wood's death.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 1-18 11:53 AM
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Here's another perspective on enlightened french dude sexual attitudes: https://twitter.com/PhMarliere/status/959134443536617474

I've loved and lusted very enjoyably with a number of fr dudes in my time, but have to say find buttercup's sunny across-the-board assessment not completely recognizable.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 02- 1-18 12:32 PM
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Maybe it was the same French dude all the time, but he kept switching hats?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 1-18 12:37 PM
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554: I read that earlier today. 37 years seems like kind of a long time to still be working on it.

I remember tasteless Natalie Wood jokes circulating on the playground in elementary school right after it happened.

Because kids are jerks.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 02- 1-18 12:41 PM
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"What kind of wood doesn't float?"


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 1-18 1:06 PM
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That's the first I ever heard that joke. You've reached a new low.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 1-18 1:10 PM
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I have been surprised on this blog before, but never shocked. The first sentence of 559 was shocking.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02- 1-18 1:13 PM
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It seems obvious in retrospect. But I can't recall ever hearing it until my mind was forever tainted by 558.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 1-18 1:15 PM
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557,558 I still remember that.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 02- 1-18 1:16 PM
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Only now that's only second thing I think of when I think of Natalie Wood. The first thing is an anecdote I read somewhere of Elvis Presley raving about the (completely new to him) experience of eating her pussy.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 02- 1-18 1:20 PM
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Before today, I would have gone with "West Side Story".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 1-18 1:22 PM
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Miracle on 34th Street.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02- 1-18 1:37 PM
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She was a little kid then. Creepy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 1-18 1:38 PM
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I hadn't realized she was married to Wagner, divorced him, was married to somebody else for years, then married Wagner again. Or that Tom Bosley appeared once as a (losing) romantic interest in a film with her.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 1-18 1:45 PM
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I either totally forgot or else never knew that Christopher Walken was on the boat at the time.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 02- 1-18 1:47 PM
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That I remembered.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 1-18 1:48 PM
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This study (via) is potentially relevent to the discussion of millenial sexual mores (though the findings are modest and not surprising)

Bad Girls" Say No and "Good Girls" Say Yes: Sexual Subjectivity and Participation in Undesired Sex During Heterosexual College Hookups
In this study, I used data from the Online College Social Life Survey (N = 7255) to explore relationships between two measures of sexual subjectivity (i.e., pleasure prioritization and sexual agency) and college women's participation in undesired sexual activity during hookups (i.e., performance of undesired sexual acts to please a partner and succumbing to verbal pressure for intercourse). Logistic regression analyses suggest that pleasure prioritization and sexual agency are associated with lower odds of performing undesired sexual acts to please a partner--and sexual agency is associated with lower odds of succumbing to verbal pressure for intercourse. These findings point to the importance of sexuality education that includes discussions of women's sexual subjectivity.

It also includes a fairly extensive list of references. For example, (picking one at random) Sex without Desire: Characteristics of Occasions of Sexual Compliance in Young Adults' Committed Relationships

Sexual compliance (i.e., willingly engaging in sexual activity that one does not desire) is a common behavior among young people. Little is known about the characteristics of occasions of sexual compliance in the context of a committed relationship. This study used both a diary method and in-depth interviews to assess occasions of sexual compliance, as well as types of sexual activity, condom use, pleasure, and feelings of pressure and control. Participants included 63 young adults (18-24 years old) in committed, heterosexual relationships. Seventeen percent of all sexual activity was rated as sexually compliant. Occasions of sexual compliance were rated as less enjoyable and more unexpected. In-depth interviews revealed four key themes including endorsement of an implicit contract between partners, partner awareness of low desire, past experience of pressure, and justification for reporting low desire.

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02- 1-18 4:42 PM
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OT: Some shit texted me about going to see Mike Pence. Do they do the whole area code or something? I've never gotten a text like that before.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 1-18 6:00 PM
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571:Related - I got a notification that the Mooch is now following me on Twitter. Granted, he follows over 200,000 people on Twitter, but still -- why me????


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02- 1-18 6:05 PM
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I get probably a spam call a day to that number but this was a text and it wasn't from a spoofed number. I used a reverse look-up and it said the number was for America First, the name in the URL of the link in the text. (And further proof that the Republicans are objectively pro-Nazi.)


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 1-18 6:33 PM
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