Thursday, April 22, 2010

[EDITORIAL - For Men] The Absence of No

There's an idea a lot of folks in the dating advice business encourage, especially when we're dealing with the male side of the equation and even more especially when dealing with shyer, less confident males.

When it comes to approaching women, asking for phone numbers, or even "physical escalation" (a euphemism for everything from hand-holding to kissing to...um...well, you know, THAT), we often encourage guys to err on the side of assertiveness. Better to be too aggressive, we tell than not aggressive enough.

A lot of guys are uncomfortable asking women out or making moves on them. One of the things we try and reinforce is that it is okay to be attracted to someone. It is not bad to strike up a conversation with a stranger and ask for her phone number. You are not a bad person for wanting sex.

We also try to educate them to the fact that women, for the most part, are not going to be mean to you or embarrass you for talking to them. In fact, many women enjoy meeting attractive guys. To paraphrase Hitch, "No woman wakes up in the morning thinking, 'I sure hope I don't get swept off my feet by some awesome guy today."

However, some men--some of whom sadly enough are giving advice to other men--take it too far. According to them, "anything that is not a 'no' is a 'yes.'"

And that's simply not true.

The party line to support this argument goes something like this:

1 - Women like sex.
2 - Society punishes women for having sex.
3 - Therefore, any resistance a woman has to sex that isn't an outright 'no' is just societal programming.

In other words, she wants it, but she doesn't want to feel like a slut. By not forcing her to give us an explicit 'yes', we're leaving her the 'it just happened' defence.

And you know what? Sometimes that's exactly true. But using it as an across-the-board argument for steamrolling ahead in the absence of any explicit resistance? That makes me nervous.

I am friends with many women. I have heard as many stories about women having sex when they didn't want to as I have stories when they wanted sex and didn't get it.

Why would a woman have sex when she doesn't want to, you might ask? And if she didn't want to have sex, why wouldn't she resist or say something?

Believe it or not, there are reasons. Maybe she was worried about her physical safety. Maybe she was impaired. Maybe she DID say no and the guy didn't hear it or recognize the signal.

And then there's that whole social pressure thing. While it's true that society isn't always the most encouraging about women having sex. But there are also times when there is an equally strong social pressure on a woman to have sex even when she doesn't want to.

Most of all, I'm uncomfortable with anyone presuming to know what someone else "really" wants. When people do it to me, it pisses me right off. Not only that--even if you have good intentions, it's a dangerous attitude, whether the subject is sex, religion, money, power, or anything else.

I'm not against well-meaning guys approaching women and screwing it up. Most women I know have dealt with worse problems than a stilted conversation at a bus stop and are perfectly capable of handling a  momentary awkwardness.We all have to start somewhere, and we all have to learn somehow.

But when guys don't take no for an answer--or don't recognize the signals of the 'unspoken no' things turn scary. And when you bring sex into the equation and all of its potential physical and emotional (not to mention legal) complications...not recognizing someone's comfort levels can have nasty consequences.

The absence of no is not a yes. Moreover, deep down, I think we all know this. Telling lies to the contrary--to women, to less-experienced guys, and to ourselves--is a dangerous path to tread.

-May All Beings Be Sexy

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4 comments:

  1. some visible cues that may mean She's not interested (if there are multiple cues, She is most probably not interested):

    - turns her face away while you're talking
    - crosses her legs away from you (She is not trying show you her thighs)
    - looks around for other people
    - talks about her significant other or crush

    when you ask her for coffee;
    - says she has other plans
    - says she's "really busy these days"

    why you got as far as you did if She's not interested in you;
    - she's lonely
    - she has low self esteem
    - she actually thought She had given you enough non-verbal cues to indicate non-interest and/or thinks you just want to be friends, She is now confused or disappointed you are still trying to "take it to the next level"
    - she doesn't want to hurt your feelings and/or risk your rage by being honest (this is far more common than you think)

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  2. "We also try to educate them to the fact that women, for the most part, are not going to be mean to you or embarass you for talking to them. In fact, many women enjoy meeting attractive guys."

    The second sentence is OK, I suppose; but what about men who are not so obviously attractive? For them -- which, really, is most men -- the first sentence is just wrong. Seriously, what planet are you from, and what is the weather like there? (Can I get tickets for the high season?) On Earth, women will, in fact, most often be mean or embarrassing to a non-attractive man who tries to talk to them; the brusque, heartless brush-off is the _best_ that a typical man on a typical encounter can hope for.

    Similarly,

    "It is not bad to strike up a conversation with a stranger and ask for her phone number. You are not a bad person for wanting sex."

    If this is true, then why are men so often treated as bad people -- potential rapists, every one -- just for the act of wanting sex? (if the desire is not returned, that is)

    In short, there appears to be no overlap between the world you live in and the one I lived in. Right now the weather here is pretty nice in the temperate belt of the northern hemisphere, hope yours is pleasant as well....

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  3. sistasage, thank you. That was awesome and very helpful.

    I haven't posted a comment moderation policy, so I let Esau's through as an example of what this site is NOT going to be about. If you wish to vent your hostility towards one gender or another under the guise of 'telling it how it is,' there are plenty of other places on the internet that will indulge you.

    Thanks,

    Dan

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  4. "It is not bad to strike up a conversation with a stranger and ask for her phone number. You are not a bad person for wanting sex."
    "If this is true, then why are men so often treated as bad people -- potential rapists, every one -- just for the act of wanting sex? (if the desire is not returned, that is)" - Esau
    Being a woman, I appreciate when men are confident to start a conversation with me, even those I would consider "unattractive”. Those who feel they may be “unattractive” can do a couple things to make their lives easier, take care of yourself. I don’t mean go to the gym every day, wear expensive cloths, or spend hours in the bathroom getting ready each morning. Do the little things, comb/style your hair, have good hygiene and dress for your body type. The absence of bad breath, body odor, and wearing clothing that fits you properly will go a LONG way towards being attractive to the opposite sex.
    It’s natural for women and men to want and need sex, its natural and a biological need. However, if you’re approaching a woman with the sole intent of getting sex, and not to get to know her on a friendly level first you’re a creeper. We (women) can tell, unless you’re a player and have the charisma to go along with it, which is just as bad.
    That being said if your approaching women and they are fleeing from you, take a look at yourself. Are you sending “I don’t care about myself, so I’ll never care about you vibes”? Or are you creeping them out by only thinking about sex and being unable to have a conversation on a friendly level? It doesn’t matter where you live, or what climate you live in.

    Take care,
    criss

    P.S. If you’re looking for just sex there are places to find those “relationships”, personal ads, street corners, craigslist, etc. which higher your odds of a sex only relationship with the opposite sex. I dont see how a dating advice blog will be helpful for these types.

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