“I was being a Class-A [expletive,] and you were being a Class-A [different expletive.]” When two people are fighting about something, over time, this is often one of the only statements about the situation they can fully agree on. Of course, it’s a small agreement… but’s it’s also not nothing.
The Consent Pledge
(for men who hook up with women)
I am a man, and by signing below, I am publicly making this “Consent Pledge” going forward:
“I commit to making sure all my sexual encounters are fully consensual. I commit to getting a crystal-clear, unambiguous and ongoing verbal or non-verbal ‘yes’ from my sexual partner(s) before and during sex. I commit to not pressuring her to say ‘yes,’ to stop if she says ‘no,’ and to ask if I’m unsure or if she gives ‘mixed signals.’ I commit to slowing down sexual escalation and checking in with her, or stopping entirely, if–in my most honest assessment–I don’t believe that she is sober enough to give full consent.”
All Men Below
The “Courtship Script” is a set of assumptions–with a long history and widespread social acceptance–about how heterosexual men and women go from being strangers, to lovers and/or long-term romantic partners.
In its most basic and caricatured form, the Courtship Script goes something like this: Boy meets girl. Boy desires girl. Boy chases girl. Girl may or may not desire boy back, but either way, she rejects his advances, and “plays hard to get.” Boy persists in hot pursuit, in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Eventually, girl gives in to his devotion, submits to his penetrating desire, and surrenders to the love/sex she actually wanted all along.
There’s no question that many men and women find some version of this basic Script “hot” and “romantic.” There’s also no question that it flies in the face of the new standards of consent—sometimes called “yes means yes” or “affirmative consent”—that are fast becoming consensus on the liberal side of the political spectrum.
What happens when a newly-evolving standard of consent flatly contradicts widely-held notions of romance and eroticism? Do we de-prioritize romance, sexual tension, seduction and eroticism (which I refer to loosely as “Eros”) in the name of safety? Or do we develop new notions of Eros that fit with our evolving standards of emotionally-safe, non-coercive sex? And what do we do about the fact that, for thousands of years, it was precisely the unsafety of Eros–its adventure, forbidden temptation, wildness, unpredictability, tension, and transgression–that made it so damn hot?
I don’t believe there are easy answers to any of these questions. I do believe, however, it’s crucial that we start discussing them more widely.
There is perhaps no better entryway to understanding the Courtship Script, and the problems with it from a consent perspective, than by examining the annual controversy that occurs—right around this time of year—over the holiday classic “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” written by Frank Loesser in 1944.
I was telling my girlfriend (7 happy months together now!) about how, when I was single and seeking in the spring, I called at least a dozen of my close female friends, told them I wanted to date seriously, and requested to be set up on blind dates with any of their girlfriends they thought would be a good match.
“Um yeah, I’ll think about that,” my friends replied. All these calls netted zero set-ups. At the time, I was a bit disappointed, and wondered why.
My girlfriend, who happens to be a professional matchmaker (!), said, very diplomatically, “Well, if you had come to me for matchmaking, you would have been an… um… interesting…. man to try to match.”
The most valuable urinal the world has ever known was created in New York City in 1917.
It had no diamonds in it, nor any precious stones at all. It was not made of gold or platinum, but of porcelain, just like every other urinal. In fact, in every respect, it was just like every other urinal, into which the common men of the time were relieving themselves in the public bathrooms around the world.
In 1917, an artist calling himself R. Mutt signed his name to such a urinal—said to be a Bedfordshire model bought at a foundry showroom on Fifth Avenue—and submitted it to an exhibition organized by the Society of Independent Artists, paying their $6 fee. Even though it was a nonjuried exhibit, open to anyone who paid the fee, the Society’s board took the extraordinary step of exercising jury powers. They turned down Mr. Mutt’s submission as not being art and returned the urinal to him with a rejection slip.
Guys-I propose a learning exercise for us. For the next 30 days, each day, read an article about gender/sexual politics written by a woman. Then, write down a few sentences about what you learned reading it (and perhaps some quotes you found valuable from the article), and share the article on your Facebook and other social media. 30 days. 30 articles.
This is called “Signal Boosting.” (I learned about it in the reading I’ve been doing since #MeToo started.) The idea is, for too long, the public sphere has been dominated by the voices of men, mostly talking to other men. So, one of the simplest things we men can do to change male-dominated society is to listen and learn from women, and then–giving full credit–provide a “signal boost” to the women’s voices we’ve learned from. And use our influence with other men to encourage them to listen and learn from women as well.
I’ll start. My next post on my social media feeds will be my first of #30DaysofSignalBoosting
Guys, at the end of your 30 days, create a final post with all 30 links of articles by women on the #MeToo movement that you read, and email/message me the list or tag me. I’ll start compiling all the articles on a site so that other men who want to participate can find a wealth of articles to start reading.
And, pssst… pass the word of this on to other men.
While many people are wearing plastic witch costumes today that they bought from Walmart… Here’s REAL-LIFE witch Adey Bell, in Episode 2 of my web series, “Our Witchy Little Matriarchy: The Goddesspell of Adey Bell.”
In this episode, entitled “The Daughter of Swords and the Son of Cups,” Adey reads cards from the audience at her recent gig at Jackson Wellsprings, interspersed with candid behind-the-scenes clips- then blesses us with a gorgeous rendition of her song “The Light.” Get your Wishcraft on… Happy Halloween everyone!
You’ll see in this video that her song choice matched the message she gave in her reading right before the song. She was doing this all night. I thought she was adjusting the readings to fit her preconceived setlist, but it turns out, no, she didn’t have a setlist. She was choosing her songs in the moment based on the readings. That just blew me away. A real-life live divination jukebox. Adey, you never cease to amaze….
For free music, tour dates, and new album updates, get on Adey’s list here
#IWasThatGuy – More times than I care to admit, in my long and tortured path of exploring my own sexuality. And I’m ashamed of it. And I’m terrified of admitting it in public. But nearly all the women I know are taking the courage to share in public their experiences of being on the receiving end of “that guy’s” inexcusable behavior (actually, dozens of “that guy’s” for each woman, reading the harrowing accounts that have been crossing my feed.) So guys, it’s time we develop the balls (or ball, in my case, ‘cuz I’ve only got one), step up and admit to and apologize for being that guy, however scary it is to do so, and whatever comes our way for doing it.
You’ve brought a woman back to your place a after a date or a social gathering. You lean in for a kiss. She turns her head to the side, pulls back, and says, “Let’s just be friends.”
- Assume it’s “token resistance,” that she really does want to hook up with you and she’s “playing hard to get,” and “she’s just saying that” (so as not to seem “easy” or “slutty.”
- Say, “No problem, I totally get it.” Wait five minutes. Then move in for another kiss.
- If she brushes you away again, and/or says, “I’m really not feeling that way about you,” wait another five minutes. Then move in again, and again, in five-minute intervals, until she has pushes you away, and asks you to leave.
- Try to convince her otherwise. Ask her a bunch of questions like, “Why aren’t you into me?” “What do the other guys have that I don’t have.” “What’s so wrong with me?” These are especially effective for the purposes of doucheness if said in a mopey, sorry-for-yourself tone.
- Lie (to her, to yourself, or both) and say, “OK, that’s cool, we can just be friends,” as if you actually wanted that. But then immediately let any enthusiasm you had about her vanish, fade away and stop returning her calls or calling her, and let the “friendship” die on the vine. Extra douche points if you’re super awkward and evasive when you see her or talk to her.
- Act/feel like she’s done something wrong and unfair to you, and blame her for your hurt. “You’ve been flirting with me all night. . .” “You’ve been giving me mixed signals for months. . .” “You led me on.” These might even be true to some degree (though you should be aware that science has proven guys are way overly-optimistic about even minor supposed “signals.” But even if these statements are true to some degree, it doesn’t mean she that just because she flirted or gave you any signals, she is obliged to take it further.) Worse: “You’re such a tease.”
- Say, in an upset, accusatory tone, “Fine, I should just go then,” and storm out. (This is especially douchey if it wasn’t a date or some other clear romantic context to begin with.)
- Worse, get angry at her. Reject her back, as if you were the one who rejected her first. As you storm out and slam the door, say “You’re not that hot anyways.”
Guys… we need to get something. Most of the time, when we comment on threads on Facebook and elsewhere about feminism, “women’s/trans/queer issues” (which should be EVERYONE’s issues), and/or men’s transgressions, we completely fuck it up. Then we get called “douches.” Then we get defensive, angry, and menacing for being called douches, and/or we get mopey and sad. Then we commit all the douchey things women are asking us not to do again in response, digging ourselves deeper. Then the dialogue (or more commonly, debate or flame war) ends when everyone involves gets too sick of continuing it. Then everyone leaves the encounter feeling even more shitty and like nothing was resolved.
Guys, we need to do better, and we can do better. Which is why I’m writing this post. To help us, at the very least, be less douchey starting right now, and ideally, not douchey at all and even constructive and supportive, if/when we choose to participate in the online dialogues and threads that are (understandably) becoming both more frequent, and more heated, now that we have a narcissistic, openly misogynist, paleo-patriarchal asshole in the White House
(Douchey being defined as, some combination of: arrogant, defensive, entitled, ignorant, willfully ignorant, tone-deaf, explicitly or implicitly sexist or misogynist, disrespectful, and/or condescending.)