Fear of being pilloried for your past sexual misbehavior

Sep 21 2018 Published by under AntiFeminist Asshole

This one is for the guys who are looking at the accusations against Trump's latest nominee for the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh. You dudes who are standard issue American heterosexual male-identifying people of at least minimal success with satisfying your sexual proclivities. You. You who are now worried that some incident in your past might have been perceived then, or eventually, as somewhat other than you perceived it by the target of your dubious affections.

Yes, you.

Please consider this is post in need of a Trigger Warning, it's going to be about sexual assault.

A recent highly scientific poll tells us, my friend, that you are totally correct.

The negotiations that lead to a successful (from your perspective) sexual experience have not typically been, and still are not, crystal clear.

And the slippery-slope style response from women you know and from the occasional white knight about the internet is total bullshit. You know the one. The type of argument that says that you should always be in zero doubt that your desired sexual partner has consented to your ham fisted attentions. The type of argument that says short of the demand to "fuck me now", there are a myriad of ways that consent has been communicated to you.

Bullshit.

(and if any of my women type and internet white knight type readers are still here, I do mean this. It's bullshit.)

The cues and nonverbal communication that are preamble to your typical* sexual encounter most often fall short of absolute surety.

At least from the perspective of the usual American heterosexual male**.

Which means, my dudes who are concerned about being accused of an attempted rape like Kavanaugh just was, I can understand why you are hesitant.

Why you are looking to minimize the actions themselves, to place them in "context", to covertly think there is a nonzero chance a woman has, shall we say, slightly reconstructed events. Why you are very nervous that #metoo might just come looking for you one day because some woman, entirely unbeknownst to you, actually had a pretty shitty time that one time. And thought that you pretty much assaulted or molested her.

The risk is real.

Because the negotiation of sexual congress in this here Great country called America is conducted at a level far below the explicit, when it comes to consent.

You are 100% right.

But.

But, but but.

This doesn't change a damn thing. You are still going to have to take the hit for your various actions.

Life is a fucking risk. Some aspects of it are more risky than others. You can choose to play it safer or you can choose to play it riskier.

Every time you enter into that negotiation about gettin busy, yes even with your monogamous spouse of many decades, you are at RISK of being a sex pest criminal. Because I know what you get like, my dudes. Entitled and shit. You are in the news for this. You express this in your hesitation to believe. In your fears of being "misconstrued" for workplace leering. In response to any of this harassment and assault news...you reveal yourself.

So. Do some introspection. Please. Think about the fact that there is usually a very, very high threshold.

I argue that your standard average American woman who identifies as heterosexual is AMAZINGLY tolerant of us standard average American men who identify as heterosexual when it comes to our fumbling need to get it on. Amazingly.

Also amazingly tolerant of leerage and line-skirting behavior, particularly in the workplace.

It is no coincidence that the vast majority of the cases of a man in power being busted for sexual harassment features a large number of disturbingly similar behavior. That, my dudes, is what it typically takes to get busted. And even when an apparent single incident is at hand, it takes extraordinary circumstances for the accusation to affect the man.

Take the Kavanaugh. The only reason this is coming up out of the confines of the alleged victim's psychology sessions is because he is up for one of the very highest honors on the planet. We're apparently the only country that enshrines a life-time appointment to a highest court. This is in the realm of inherited monarchy. It's big stuff. Otherwise Kavanaugh****, if he did it, would have lived his life entirely unaffected by this alleged one-off attempted rape as a teenager.

Look, I don't want to have my life blown up because some prior sexual partner viewed my actions as criminal. And again, I agree with you dude, it is never 100.0000000% certain***** that someone didn't experience things differently than we did. But...that's life. That is a risk we take for our desires, needs (lol) and fumbling interpersonal skills.

So we need to stop letting that bullshit pollute our reactions when women come forward to say some other guy stepped over the line and assaulted them. We need to stop letting that bullshit block our ears from hearing when someone alleges workplace harassment against our science hero. And we need to stop letting that bullshit engage our psyche's need to protect ourselves from any slight suggestion that maybe we injured someone.

__
*non professional type, that is

**of a certain age. I don't know much about wtf is up with y'all millennials and now the post-millennials***.

***my kids are kinda close lipped about this shit. as they should be.

****I mean the guy did clerk for Judge Kozinski, found to be a chronic harasser, enrolled in a college frat with rapist views and had a team who groomed his own prospective female clerks for being conventionally attractive but I'm sure that is totally unrelated to anything.

*****hey, if you want to do some sort of AA amends kind of thing and call up your prior sexual partners to ask if you ever stepped over the line, feel free. maybe that would be useful in all of this?

27 responses so far

  • Jonathan Badger says:

    While certainly the "signed contract for sexual behavior" doesn't really exist, and Tina Fey justifiably got criticized for implying that's what PC people want in "Kimmy Schmidt", but still, it is pretty clear when somebody doesn't want want what is going on. I can kind of see the case where both people are pretty drunk, but even then it tends to be either a case where somebody is forcing themselves on a more impaired person or a case where both people are willing at the time but in morning one (or both) realize that this was not a good idea.

  • Neuro-conservative says:

    It's almost as if traditional notions of courtship and conservative sexual mores actually served a useful purpose...

  • GM says:

    Spoken like a true scientist -- facts and evidence do not matter, petty politics and getting revenge is what is much more important.

  • GM says:

    It's almost as if traditional notions of courtship and conservative sexual mores actually served a useful purpose...

    Culture is a subject to natural selection.

    Which has certain implications that people do not like to think about.

    But the so called "liberal left" is really no friend to evolutionary thinking, it is best described as anti-anti-evolutionist, and has arrived at that position because on the other side of the political divide they are strongly enriched for lunatic Christians who deny that evolution even happened.

  • anonymous says:

    I am deeply disappointed in you DrugMonkey. Everyone knows the difference between the mating dance and rape. Implying that they are similar is dangerous, disingenuous, and WRONG. What Kavanaugh is accused of* was attempted rape. He was not being a sex-pest. (* I don't doubt that she is telling the truth. It was not uncommon at the time. Particularly among the wealthy, privileged set whose parents could get them out of any trouble. It was also something that we *ALL* knew was wrong, even if it would have been hard for her to prosecute.)

    I grew up in that part of Bethesda at the same time period that both Ford and Kavanaugh did. (Although I didn't go to their schools, wasn't invited to those parties, and didn't know either of them.) We *ALL* knew the difference between being a sex-pest and attempted rape. Because it probably matters for this discussion, I will admit to being a guy.

    We all know the difference between "Please, baby, please" and holding someone down and putting your hand over their mouth to make sure no one can hear them scream. We know the difference between kissing someone only to get your face slapped and trying to rip someone's clothes off while they struggle against you. We know it now and we knew it then.

    That time was the era of the date-rape discussion (which is very analogous to the workplace-harassment discussion that is happening now). Just as the problem harassers would like to say the professor making a date with a student in another lab is equivalent to the professor trading grades for sex, it's not, and we know it's not. We know the difference between Harvey Weinstein threatening a young actress' career and the married 33 year old Harrison Ford having an affair with the naive 19 year old Carrie Fisher. We know the difference between Ansari's bad date and Cosby drugging women. While we can debate whether it was OK for the older, married Ford to have an affair with his young co-star, or whether Ansari should have been more aware of the situation, there ain't NOBODY who thinks what Weinstein or Cosby did was OK. In the same way, we ALL knew the difference between making a move and what Kavanaugh is accused of doing.

    Take, for example, the famous scene in Revenge of the Nerds where the nerd pretends to be the girl's jock boyfriend. While we may recognize the rape-y nature of it today and find it uncomfortable and questionable by today's standards, even at the time, there was a big difference between her saying OK to the guy in the mask (even if it was the wrong guy) and her saying no. If she had said no and he had held his hand over her mouth and tried to rip her clothes off as she struggled, that would not have been OK, even in 1984. We knew what "no" meant.

    Moreover, no one is going back to punish guys for breaking rules that are not OK now but were then. What Kavanaugh is accused of doing was attempted rape. We call it such now and we did then too. It does not help anything to confuse it with being a "sex pest".

    Note: I am not saying it's not a good thing to have a discussion about how to find a date without being a "sex pest", but that was a discussion happening in those high schools and colleges at the time. In fact, the whole "turn getting consent into a sexy discussion" that colleges are teaching now grew out of that discussion in the 1980s. But don't ever confuse attempted rape with being a sex-pest.

  • drugmonkey says:

    anonymous you are absolutely right that I drifted on this post and forgot to lock down the end of the spectrum that is rape or attempted rape. What Kavanaugh is accused of is the latter and the space of argument on the part of the deniers seems mostly to recognize that if that is what happened it was indeeed attempted rape.

    OTOH, the motivations for seeking to disbelieve that this is actually what happened do align with what I was trying to say here. It’s the slippery slopers that say this all must be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt before we can believe it. They fear that belief of Kavanaugh’s alleged victim means belief that their prior behavior deserves equal public scrutiny.

    And my point is that yeah, these are the risks. If you stray over the line of decency you have to pay a cost. Don’t like it? Don’t have sex.

  • drugmonkey says:

    JB- I dunno man. Our culture is replete with tales of women saying they had sex for reasons other than wholly affirmative desire to have sex right that minute. Consent exists on a very broad spectrum.

  • anonymous (from Bethesda) says:

    I'm sorry, but you're still really wrong here, DM.

    First, the people asking to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt are not really "worried about the slippery slope". That's a line they are using to distort the discussion. Go take a look at Kavanaugh's writings on how the Clinton's should have been sent to jail over Vince Foster (not only never proved, it was never real) or how Clinton should have been removed from office for the Clinton-Lewinsky affair (completely consensual and not at all illegal at the time, although probably not OK now). They are right wing republicans willing to sacrifice everything to get their agenda on the supreme court. (We know this because they are unwilling to stand up to a president who has publicly admitted to things which would get him convicted in any honest court of law. We can see this in Paul Ryan's interview where he said that he had to support candidate Trump because otherwise the democrats might win. We know this because they say both "Merrick Garland shouldn't be voted on because an election is coming up" and "Brett Kavanaugh must be voted on now because an election is coming up".) Don't use their language. Define your own language and address the actual problems that you see.

    Second, "no" does not exist on a spectrum of consent to "yes". There is and must be a bright line. Talking about it as a spectrum or as "locking down the end that is rape" is problematic and wrong. It leads to the goal of an aggressor shifting the victim along that spectrum. Which leads to lines like the one that got Kavanaugh's fraternity kicked off of Yale's campus. (I won't type it here. Enough to say it is unacceptable and disgusting.)

    Third, yes, people (both women and men in both hetero and homosexual relationships) have sex for lots of reasons. Some of those are good reasons. Some are bad reasons. But thinking about consent as being on a continuum from OK to Yes! is not a useful construct. The better construct is to tell the askor (I want to say the aggressor, but that has a conflict construct that is explicitly not what we want here) to understand what the reasons are and to look for an affirmative (Yes!) answer.

    Colleges first tried to teach "no means no", but that left open the spectrum argument and left open a lot of situations where people were threatened and gave in. (Like in the Wallflowers song "she only did what she did so he would drive her home then".) Now, colleges and high schools are teaching kids to ask for the affirmative "yes" and to turn it into a dance back and forth. This is apparently working better among the non-skeevy. (I assume that our goal as askors is to not be skeevy.) What is interesting about this new perspective is that it explicitly turns away from the "you're taking a risk by asking, so go ahead and be skeevy, just don't rape" and explicitly turns toward "you're both agents that can make your own decisions, respect that and maybe you'll both have a good time."

    Yes, asking someone out is a risk. It's especially a risk the first time when you don't know them well yet. But telling people to "suck it up" because life is risky is the wrong meme. The better thing is to teach people how to ask so as to provide your partner the chance to answer you safely.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Second, "no" does not exist on a spectrum of consent to "yes". There is and must be a bright line.

    I think you are missing the entire point here. I am addressing my comments primarily as to whether a party knows with certainty that a state of consent has been reached.

    But thinking about consent as being on a continuum from OK to Yes! is not a useful construct.

    This is about the communicative behavior that creates a continuum of evidence that the partner is consenting. Whether it is “useful” to acknowledge reality or not is, of course, up to the individual. Obviously I do find it useful to acknowledge that there is almost always uncertainty and that this is no excuse.

    The better thing is to teach people how to ask so as to provide your partner the chance to answer you safely.

    Absolutely people can choose levels of safety and risk in all of their behaviors. We can and should work to change culture such that less nonconsenting sex happens. If that involves more overt assurances of consent, hey great. But this has not been, and is not currently, a general reality.

  • Neuro-conservative says:

    Anon - that NYTimes column is the single best argument for traditional courtship that I've seen in years.

  • becca says:

    NC- in traditional courtship, a man asks another man if he can give him a donkey in exchange for his virgin. You can be nostalgic for that if you like, but it seems awfully hard on the donkeys.

    ANYWAY. When I was in 6th grade, I went and visited my old classmates. I had one of the weirdest conversations I can remember about what my experience had been like.

    If you had asked me a week before that discussion, I'd have said I had a hard time in school and tended to get bullied for being a "crybaby" and I could have named several specific tormenters and probably the specific hurtful things they said (couldn't tell you now, but this stuff went on for years).
    On the other hand, when I was chatting with those kids it turned out the *reputation* I had was entirely different. They saw me as a tough kid/bully (this was presented as something *respectable* from the perspective of these particular kids). Now, granted they hadn't actually been in my class, and it's entirely possible something got garbled. When I asked them about why they thought that, they cited a particular encounter I barely remembered. Apparently I had made a girl cry and run off the playground. There was no physical fight, and the girl in question was not there and could not confirm/deny her experience. She was someone I wouldn't have called a friend but certainly didn't have a negative relationship with overall.
    It's entirely possible I was cruel, or she had just underwent someone else saying something awful and so my indifferent but not cruel action triggered something, or it's possible it was all a total misunderstanding. To this day, I just don't know.

    In any event, it was the first experience I remember where I can point to how bad we can be at assessing our own reputations. I often think back on this experience, especially when I'm with academics who lament being "bullied" in school.

    I wish I could say there is no sexual behavior on my part I regret, or no part that could have hurt someone more than I know. But it's not true. I just hope that if I'm ever in a position where someone calls me out on my past I do my best to set things right however I can.

    Which actually wouldn't be a bad philosophy of justice to see more widely adopted.

  • Also Anon says:

    I'm about the same age as Kavanaugh. And I'm not perfect. But I think I would remember putting my hand over someone's mouth so that they couldn't cry out while I was trying to get it on with them.

    And if I were the type who routinely got so drunk that I might likely not recall that happening, then I wouldn't object vociferously if someone accused me of having acted like that. I would give them the benefit of the doubt and do whatever I could to make it better for them. Because that's what a decent, albeit imperfect, being does.

    So if you're a cowardly a$$ who has misbehaved in the past, yes, be afraid, be worried. If you're a decent man who no longer acts like an idiot and someone brings up your past idiocy, try behaving like the decent, upstanding human being you fancy yourself to be now. Pretty sure a lot of people would have reacted differently to this if we'd gotten something other than knee-jerk denial.

  • Neuro-conservative says:

    becca - Your people's traditions must be different from mine. The rest of your comment, however, does not surprise me all...

  • Ola says:

    The "blame the booze" thing rears its ugly head again...

    We can't have free wine at conference poster sessions because old gropey beardo-profs can't be trusted not to ogle the wimmin.

    We can't have good SCOTUS nominees because even if one of them did a gang rape, that's OK because it was the beer.

    FFS people, alcohol is a mood enhancer! It's not like Jekyll and Hyde! It doesn't change you fundamentally. It just reveals a side of you that's already there! If you're a suppressed rapey/gropey/creepy dude, a couple beers are gonna make you more rapey/gropey/creepy, but even without the booze on board you've got a deep-seated character trait, and that's a problem!

    Kavanaugh and his defenders can wheeze on about "the sauce" all they like, but we all know it's just an enabler (as is frat-house culture). Enablers only work if there's something there from the start to enable.

  • David says:

    "my kids are kinda close lipped about this shit. as they should be."

    I'm not a parent, so I'm likely naive about these things, but I think this is the wrong way to go about this. Wouldn't our society be better if teenagers could have open and frank discussions with adults about these situations. If sex wasn't treated as a taboo and if someone could admit that teenagers drink and act on urges that they don't fully understand. When everyone pretends that abstinence is the only thing we are allowed to discuss, how can we honestly expect teenagers to navigate real world situations like consent (or lack there of) while under the influence.

  • GM says:

    So if you're a cowardly a$$ who has misbehaved in the past, yes, be afraid, be worried.

    The problem is that completely innocent people are having their lives ruined by malicious accusations left and right (note: I am not talking about the highly publicized cases here). It's not just the "cowardly asses who have misbehaved in the past".

    You are a cowardly ass yourself who has some scores to settle with someone you don't like, and you happen to be female? Well, now you have the weapon to settle those scores in your hands. And it is being used. And it will be used more and more in the future if the assault on due process is not stopped.

  • Grumble says:

    @GM: "You are a cowardly ass yourself who has some scores to settle with someone you don't like, and you happen to be female? Well, now you have the weapon to settle those scores in your hands."

    Not this again.

    Ya know, investigations of sexual harassment, if they occur at all, typically end up concluding in favor of the (male) alleged harasser. Decisions to fire someone or take other punitive measures almost never occur in a simple "he said/she said" situation. It's only when a PATTERN of behavior emerges that companies, colleges, and (hopefully) the Senate take action.

  • Neuro-conservative says:

    Grumble and others on the left conveniently forget the UVa case, the Duke Lacrosse case, the UC Santa Cruz case, and many, many others.

  • drugmonkey says:

    I have heard of the Duke Lacrosse case. Three specific individuals named, so sure, that counts.

    UVa refers to the rape account published in Rolling Stone? This one accused a fraternity but I believe no specific individuals were named. So it is different in quality, but sure, we can count this one.

    I have no idea what you mean by the UC santa cruz case. Balakrishnan? the items that I could google up made him look less than innocent, I have to say. Before that guy, up to 2017 "To date, no tenure-track faculty at UC Santa Cruz has ever lost his or her job due to a Title IX violation.". https://www.mercurynews.com/2017/02/01/uc-santa-cruz-settles-sexual-assault-case-for-1-15-million/

    Your "many, many others" requires citation to be believable.

  • Neuro-conservative says:

    Here is the UC Santa Cruz case (to clarify: falsely accused student - not faculty): https://www.ksbw.com/article/woman-who-staged-fake-uc-santa-cruz-rape-pleads-no-contest/1052118

    In the UVa case, a "perpetrator" was named and accused: Haven Monahan. This detail has been memory-holed by the media, because it makes the accuser (Jackie Coakley) look even worse. Monahan is a non-existent fiction, initially created as part of a catfishing scheme Ms. Coakley employed to get another student to like her.

  • drugmonkey says:

    A "non-existent fiction" is not a party who has been injured by false accusation. A staged case in which there was no specific perpetrator named for the rape that didn't happen also does not have an injured party.

    You are not supporting your case here.

    This particular discussion is very closely tied to the backlash against victims stating their experience. It is a species of denial that claims that somehow increasing our willingness to believe victims increases the risk of false accusation for innocent men. That's what we're discussing. The idea that a man might be accused specifically (not as a member of a frat, or someone who happened to occupy space on a college campus one day). Your anecdotes do not speak to that at all.

  • Neuro-conservative says:

    The jury believed that Dean Eramo of UVa was an injured party and awarded her $3M.

    More broadly, do you live in such a bubble that you are unaware of the damage done by Title IX kangaroo courts? https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2017/09/the-uncomfortable-truth-about-campus-rape-policy/538974/

  • Grumble says:

    Interesting article, NC. Its focus, however, is on cases in which one student claims another student sexually harassed or assaulted her. My assertion that colleges (and other institutions, e.g. corporations) don't take action until a pattern of harassment becomes evident referred to cases where bigwigs were accused. For instance, Harvey Weinstein, Les Moonves, Tom Jessel, etc.

    The Atlantic article makes a good point, which is that it's very, very hard to design a system for dealing fairly with accusations of sexual misconduct among undergrads, especially young ones. These are kids figuring things out and trying things out, and not everyone knows exactly what his/her boundaries are.

  • GM says:

    It is not just undergrad-on-undergrad, it happens a lot in grad school too, and it has also happened to PIs (not all prominent cases you might have read about in the news are accurately described to the public).

  • GM says:

    @Neuro-conservative

    No matter how much evidence you give them, they will not change their mind, this is a a matter of religious belief, not one about facts and reason. And they call themselves "scientists"...

    I wanted to add one more thing that I was reminded of in the first line of that article. Notice the name of the student -- Kwadwo Bonsu. Guess where he is from and what the color of his skin is.

    People have in fact compiled some stats on Title IX accusations, and surprise, surprise, black males are hugely overrepresented among the accused (and usually it is a by a white female student).

    In case people have forgotten, about a third of lynchings back in the days happened over rape allegations, usually made in order to cover up premarital sex or infidelity. Hundreds of black men paid with their lives so that some white woman could escape with her reputation intact.

    We are essentially going back to that system (minus the tar, ropes and trees), and almost nobody seems to be understanding what's happening...

  • GM says:

    Not this again.

    Ya know, investigations of sexual harassment, if they occur at all, typically end up concluding in favor of the (male) alleged harasser. Decisions to fire someone or take other punitive measures almost never occur in a simple "he said/she said" situation. It's only when a PATTERN of behavior emerges that companies, colleges, and (hopefully) the Senate take action.

    Not really, hundreds. if not thousands of students have been expelled over false accusations, I know of a few cases first hand.

    And even when the accusation is so ridiculous, or the accused student is sufficiently quick thinking to file a bogus counteraccusation of his own (this seems to be one's best bet in such situations), and as a result he is not punished, there are still huge damages to him -- he typically has to interrupt his studies, if he is on scholarships, etc., he may loses those, he might even be removed from campus while the "investigation" is going on, etc.

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