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The Dark Side of Sex

I noticed recently that the activism world of Portland has been getting pretty cool lately. Protests against Bush are getting organized, community building has been great over the last year with all sorts of inspiringly sustainable projects in food production, alternative fuels implementation, reused wood and earth constructions - Liberty Hall seems to be getting a face-lift, Food Not Bombs fare has been great on the nights when it's available... Not that everything's so amazing great, every victory has numerous corresponding losses these days, but they seem pretty good for the end times of empire... But I realized also that it's been a while since I've heard anyone talking about verbal consent, or the instances of sexual assault that were tearing up the activist community in Portland and Eugene just a year and a half ago. It's great that I haven't been hearing of any further assaults in that time, although that doesn't mean they haven't happened - I maybe haven't heard or others are maybe keeping silent. Certainly sexual assault continues in society at large, but it could be considered a small blessing that it hasn't been afflicting the activist community.
One reason I could credit for this gift might be the awareness raised over the issue for activists who were part of the affected communities just a little while ago. With the topic so salient, everyone has been well aware of the potential harms and repercussions, who would dare to cross another's boundaries against their will, who isn't more prepared to protect themselves from another's misguided advances? But it concerns me as I see a new influx of activists, whole new generations even, getting involved on a local level, that they maybe haven't been inoculated on this topic yet. Not knowing the pain and destruction such violations have caused in the past, the rifts in fledgling community that never quite get healed up, they may not even know what they're missing yet. They don't know that most of those who have been accused fled all responsibility for the ongoing pain they have caused their victims. While there were several different men's counter-patriarchy discussion groups started that summer, they have pretty much gone inactive these days, and I don't see a lot of information or literature getting shelled out lately.

When I started writing this, I didn't know if the women's action group that started last year was still active, but now I see that they're holding a workshop soon -  http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2004/12/306558.shtml, and that a sexual assault conference is being organized for the summer. While this is great, my own fears or desires to see a more positive world manifest still make me want to start conversation about positive sexuality on Indymedia, because I've come to recognize the value that community discussion has in preventing Bad Things from happening.

I'm not an expert on interpersonal communications by any means, but there are a few ideas I would like to throw out there. I have observed that sex and sexuality are some of the most poorly understood topics in our society. It has a lot to do with histories of guilt and repression, the immediacy of greedy desire, the ongoing political battle over access to proper medical assistance and unbiased information, and sometimes with the sort of ingrained self-destruction that members of our society absorb from the usurious power dynamics of the First World's usurious economic and political leverage over everyone else on the planet. They say that when the economy turns bad, check-cashing places open up (which they have, as anyone driving along Foster or Powell or numerous other streets in Portland can see), and alcohol consumption goes up. Adult bookstores and porn video shops also seem to do a brisk business. Sexuality is also a very personal thing, wrapped tightly in our own experiences and life challenges, that many people don't feel safe to talk openly, even about how they are feeling. Negative life experiences and irrational needs and fears can also do a lot to interfere with the simple act of caring and sharing love with other human beings. Oddly enough, we are often able to relate more clearly with other people's dogs or cats than we can with the pet "owners" themselves.

There ain't any quick fix to the current situation, but individuals can take up the challenges offered by their own place and experience in our society, by committing themselves to being sincere in their relationships. Being able to tell the truth is a talent that really has few parallels. We often don't do it, sometimes because it will hurt other people, but it is essential if we ever hope to escape from the deep well of isolation and dissatisfaction that we all get mired in at one time or another.

I want to reiterate the best idea I heard that came out of the sexual assault community meetings - Verbal Consent. This type of consent is the most complete possible, when practiced conscientiously. It can be difficult, it can even be more than a little corny, but the basic idea is that when you want to move to a higher level of intimacy with another person, you ask them plainly if that is what they want. If a certain level of intimacy is new and you don't know whether the other person is appreciating it, you ask before reasserting that level of intimacy. So for example, so you've been getting along well with another person and you want to give them a backrub, you ask whether they want that, and only do it after they say yes. If, at other times in the future, you want to give them a backrub again, you ask again, until such a point in time that from previous experiences, which build up a history of consistent confirmations that they appreciate your backrubs, or adequate explanations of when they would and wouldn't like them, you can confidently say you know your backrub will be appreciated, and then you can stop asking. If at some point, you want to kiss this same person, you ask before you do so, regardless of how comfortable they have become with your backrubs. Any new activity you seek to initiate, you ask first, until you've talked about it enough that you know what they want from you. The benefits are multiple: you know where you stand with the person you care for, at the same time, you get an opportunity to reflect on what you want from them should they seek additional intimacy with you, all parties involved have the right to refuse or revoke consent at any point in time, which means there needn't be any discomfort or fear between two people trying to share their feelings. It basically helps two people discover and establish the kind of relationship that both can be okay with. It seems awkward at first, but that isn't a bad thing as usually the humor of the situation rises up when neither party has any reason to feel uncomfortable or fearful, and opens the way for honest communication. Over time it gets easier, and pairs of people who have had a lot of practice with verbal consent can rather quickly negotiate and establish a mutually satisfying mode of interaction.

Beyond that Great Idea, I've had a couple other ideas that I've only talked about privately or in small groups that I would like to share, and which flesh out the above. While I was first practicing Verbal Consent, I developed a theory for Non-verbal Consent, which I have since used with some success. I didn't come up with it as a short-cut for Verbal Consent, the idea isn't to skip out on the difficulties, time commitment, or potential for disappointment that Verbal Consent entails, but rather to develop a deeper awareness of the ways people communicate their fears and desires. Basically, I noticed that when people get to the point when they think maybe they like each other, they start to feel good, and expect to feel better, and above and beyond anything else, don't want to risk interrupting this process. Which maybe hampers their honesty a little bit, causes them to be more selective in how they portray themselves, what pieces of their history they select first for sharing, etc. My theory is that if two people are compatible, a good match for each other, star-crossed, etc, then they will continue to be drawn together even after the smoothness of this attraction is broken. So my explorations of Non-verbal Communication have been to examine any and all behaviors I might engage in that might have the effect of facilitating closeness at the expense of full and open disclosure. It could be a macho stance, or tendency towards impressive style of dress, a joke I decide to or not to tell. Whatever it might be, I try to notice it. And when I see it, I try to do whatever it was I was wanting to hold back, for the sake of more complete honesty. Often this has a noticeably chilling effect on the warm bond I had been forming with a potential sweetie. Often it has lead to long discussions, sometimes testy, sometimes it causes that other person to go away and never come back. But in many circumstances, with people who are capable or reciprocating honesty, in situations where there are good legitimate reasons for our attraction to each other, and a lot of star-dust, the end result is a closer, more comfortable level of intimacy with that other person. It really helps to set things off on the right foot, whereas a few months later down the road of a rocky relationship, you may be able to see dozens of times a day when you or your partner says or does things that seem fucked up, but it can be much much harder to change at that point.

Another more advanced level of communication I would like to see would involve some Community Consensus around romantic associations. Third parties can often be very good at detecting non-verbal patterns between two potential lovers, and I think they could have a lot of beneficial insights to share before a pairing has occurred. Having community members reflect on the romantic associations of one or both people might turn up useful but neglected truths. There might be a pattern of age differential, destructive drug use, or just hooking up with people who you can't get along with. There might also be hidden feelings among community members about one of the potential partners, which could lead to repressed tensions and passive-aggressive behavior down the road if they are strong. Having a time where people can lay their feelings out might actually lead to all parties discovering more options and more opportunity to reflect on the course of their sexual development. In terms of developing stronger bonds of community, and greater sexual health among the members of the community, I think this could be a good direction to look into. Not that it would be easy at all, but few of the best things are...

If anyone else who was involved in the sexual assault cases of 2003 has stumbled across this, please comment or add to what I have said. If anyone has news of more recent events, please share them, and if anyone has questions about anything under the sun, please ask them.

do i really need to intellectualize sexuality? 22.Dec.2004 01:33

not interested

i can appreciate the author's attempt at exploring issues around sexuality. knock yourself out. but i am not interested, not even a little bit. i have a visceral reaction to this approach and attempt to de-mystify and intellectualize sexuality. i am with camile paglia on her assertion that sex is "dark and dangerous", and i love it that way! millions of years of evolution DRIVES our deep sexuality.

from one review of paglia's "sexual personae": "Paglia sees female vulnerability largely as a problem for naive upper middle class WASPs whose utopian assumptions and rejection of biological reality have rendered them vulnerable."

AMEN SISTER! i have no interest in perpetuating victimhood. are there sexual predators out there? you bet, that is fucking reality. time for a self defense course, and maybe a weapon if you live in fear. is life unpredictable and dangerous? yes, thank god[dess], it keeps things interesting!

sit around drinking tea and "...involve some Community Consensus around romantic associations..."? have fun. no thank you. i like my sexuality and life a little [a lot] more on the edge.

just to fan the flames, some camile paglia for you... 22.Dec.2004 01:50


camile paglia is often seen in full leathers with a knife strapped to her belt. the establishment feminists despise her, and the neutered intellectual elite shun her. but she would probably give the writer of the article above a good talking to. here is an excerpt from her work, "sex, art and american culture", telling it like it IS, not like we WISH IT TO BE:

"Rape is an outrage that cannot be tolerated in civilized society. Yet feminism, which has waged a crusade for rape to be taken more seriously, has put young women in danger by hiding the truth about sex from them.

Aggression and eroticism are deeply intertwined. Hunt, pursuit, and capture are biologically programmed into male sexuality. Generation after generation, men must be educated, refined, and ethically persuaded away from their tendency toward anarchy and brutishness. Society is not the enemy, as feminism ignorantly claims. Society is woman's protection against rape. Feminism, with its solemn Carry Nation repressiveness, does not see what is for men the eroticism or fun element in rape, especially the wild, infectious delirium of gang rape. Women who do not understand rape cannot defend themselves against it.

As a fan of football and rock music, I see in the simple, swaggering masculinity of the jock and in the noisy posturing of the heavy-metal guitarist certain fundamental, unchanging truths about sex. Masculinity is aggressive, unstable, combustible. It is also the most creative cultural force in history. Women must reorient themselves toward the elemental powers of sex, which can strengthen or destroy. Feminism has got to wake up and look at fire as it is. Sex is a dark and turbulent power that may not be controllable by pat verbal formulas and chirpy hopes.

You have to accept the fact that part of the sizzle of sex comes from the danger of sex. You can be overpowered.

So it is woman's personal responsibility to be aware of the dangers of the world. But these young feminists today are deluded. They come from a protected, white, middle-class world, and they expect everything to be safe. Notice it's not black or Hispanic women who are making a fuss about this--they come from cultures that are fully sexual and they are really realistic about sex. But these other women are sexually repressed girls, coming out of pampered homes, and when they arrive at these colleges and suddenly hit male lust, they go, "Oh, no!"

These girls say, "Well, I should be able to get drunk at a fraternity party and go upstairs to a guy's room without anything happening." And I say, "Oh, really? And when you drive your car to New York City, do you leave your keys on the hood?" My point is that if your car is stolen after you do something like that, yes, the police should pursue the thief and he should be punished. But at the same time, the police--and I--have the right to say to you, "You stupid idiot, what the hell were you thinking?"

I mean, wake up to reality. This is male sex. Guess what, it's hot. Male sex is hot.

Pursuit and seduction are the essence of sexuality. It's part of the sizzle. Girls hurl themselves at guitarists, right down to the lowest bar band. The guys are strutting. If you live in rock and roll, as I do, you see the reality of sex, of male lust and women being aroused by male lust. It attracts women. It doesn't repel them. Women have the right to freely choose and to say yes or no. Everyone should be personally responsible for what happens in life. I see the sexual impulse as egotistical and dominating, and therefore I have no problem understanding rape.

My Sixties attitude is, yes, go for it, take the risk, take the challenge--if you get raped, if you get beat up in a dark alley in a street, it's okay. That was part of the risk of freedom, that's part of what we've demanded as women. Go with it. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go on. We cannot regulate male sexuality. The uncontrollable aspect of male sexuality is part of what makes sex interesting. And yes, it can lead to rape in some situations. What feminists are asking for is for men to be castrated, to make eunuchs out of them. The powerful, uncontrollable force of male sexuality has been censored out of white middle-class homes. But it's still there in black culture, and in Spanish culture.

It's this whole stupid feminist thing about how we are basically nurturing, benevolent people, and sex is a wonderful thing between two equals. With that kind of attitude, then of course rape is going to be a total violation of your entire life, because you have had a stupid, naive, Mary Poppins view of life to begin with. Sex is a turbulent power that we are not in control of; it's a dark force. The sexes are at war with each other. That's part of the excitement and interest of sex. It's the dark realm of the night. When you enter the realm of the night, horrible things can happen there.

You know what gets me sick and tired? The battered-woman motif. It's so misinterpreted, the way we have to constantly look at it in terms of male oppression and tyranny, and female victimization. When, in fact, everyone knows throughout the world that many of these working-class relationships where women get beat up have hot sex. They ask why she won't leave him? Maybe she won't leave him because the sex is very hot. I say we should start looking at the battered-wife motif in terms of sex. If gay men go down to bars and like to get tied up, beaten up, and have their asses whipped, how come we can't allow that a lot of wives like the kind of sex they are getting in these battered-wife relationships? We can't consider that women might have kinky tastes, can we? No, because women are naturally benevolent and nurturing, aren't they? "

Rape is not the dark side of sex 22.Dec.2004 10:08

an annoying word nerd

When I think of the dark side of sex, I think of domination (either partner), spanking, and generally stuff that both partners agree to and enjoy, and is kinky. Rape isn't sex. It's about power, not pleasure.

Camile almost had me until this point 22.Dec.2004 10:42


<You know what gets me sick and tired? The battered-woman motif. It's so misinterpreted, the way we have to constantly look at it in terms of male oppression and tyranny, and female victimization. When, in fact, everyone knows throughout the world that many of these working-class relationships where women get beat up have hot sex. They ask why she won't leave him? Maybe she won't leave him because the sex is very hot. I say we should start looking at the battered-wife motif in terms of sex. If gay men go down to bars and like to get tied up, beaten up, and have their asses whipped, how come we can't allow that a lot of wives like the kind of sex they are getting in these battered-wife relationships? We can't consider that women might have kinky tastes, can we? No, because women are naturally benevolent and nurturing, aren't they? ">

Okay, I'm a Dominant in a D/s relationship. There is a HUGE difference between getting tied up and getting whipped or paddled in a consensual scene and being punched in the face, having your arm broken, put through a window. This whole "everyone knows throughout the world that many of these working-class relationships where women get beat up have hot sex" is utter bullshit. If there's anything that "everyone knows", it's that a physically abusive relationship almost invariably ends one of two ways: when the victim finally leaves for good or the abuser goes too far and kills them. They don't stay because of the sex, they stay because they're terrified, because they've been so psychologically beaten down that they don't think anyone else will want them, because they think they deserve it. There are really not that many people that get off on being struck with a closed fist, heavy blunt object likely to break bones, or anything usually encountered in an abusive relationship. The abusers aren't doing what they do so their partners enjoy it, they're doing it because they're enraged or because they've been taught by others during childhood that that's how you respond to certain situations. It's not being done to heighten sexual pleasure. Women have the right to choose a D/s relationship, whichever side of the equation they're comfortable on, that much I agree with and I realize that D/s relationships are viewed dimly in the extremes of feminism. But I am neither a batterer nor am I neutered. I don't have to be either. I don't have to be a swaggering, posturing brute to be a man or a Dom, nor do I have to walk on eggshells and try to shield every female around me from every single hurt life has to offer no matter how small to be a feminist. I can balance strength and consideration. Lust and love. Rapists can't do that. Batterers can't do that. Camile's picture of men is pretty skewed, that we're mostly inclined to be boorish, thoughtless horndogs and women should just deal with it. Rubbish. A man can have self-control, honor, inner strength. Muscles in his head and in his spirit as well as the ones attatched to his skeleton. Without those two, the third is worthless. Masculinity is worthless with nothing to temper it, give it flexibility AND strength. Anyway, that's my peace on it. My wife would like to add her own thoughts though. Here she is.

Something I have been saying very loudly to the women in my life these days is this. Do you know what feminism is to me? It is choice. If I -choose- to stay home and have children and take care of my husband, that is my -choice-. If I -choose- to be in a D/s relationship and be tied and paddled, or to tie and paddle someone else, it is my -choice-. I do not do these things to pacify my male partner, I do them because it is what I want. It is my -choice- as a feminist. If you want to tell me that to do these things is not to be a feminist, then you are taking away my choice. How is that any different then the choices that men took away from us for years before feminism was even a concept, better yet a word?

And let me mention one other thing. As far as this "hot sex" nonsense. Having lived through two abusive relationships, I can say first hand that the sex was the last thing on my mind. What -was- on my mind was finding a way out. A way out of the life that they intentionally put me in. Taken away from family, friends, finance. Having ideas drilled in to your head day in and day out that you will never find anyone better...or worse, that if you leave, they WILL find you, and the WILL kill you. It is insulting to assume that women in this type of situation do not try and leave, or stay because the "Sex is hot". There are exceptions to every rule...even this one. But is that the norm? The "hot sex", absolutely not.

my thoughts 22.Dec.2004 10:47

roddy f. bat

As a survivor involved with the mentioned rapes and assualts a few years prior, I have some comments on the above article. Sex and sexuality is a very personal matter. A lot of the reason behind my leaving the Portland activist community was that my sex life had been splattered across these indy media pages (oftentimes without my consent). Women's groups took my name and my story and exploited it to further their own agendas of what sex and sexuality ought to look like. This is what I've learned and have taught the young women I have spent the last year working with...

For starters, NO means NO. Make that clear from the start of a sexual relationship and keep that phrase serious so that there is never any confusion. Engage in sexual relationships when you feel confident about yourself, your sexuality, and your choice of partner. This will aleviate feelings of guilt, remorse, self-loathing, etc. which has potential to begin the cycle of unhealthy sexual encounters. If it doesn't feel right, don't do it. This can be anything from hanging out with that person, to being sexually involved. Listen to you instincts, and if yours are not working, check in with a friend. Be honest with your partner. If you've been raped, molested, assualted, harrassed, etc. before, let your partner know. A person that you would want to be with will work with you to feel comfortable, not pressure you to get over it or move on. Understand your feeling and have the words to express them. Make you boundaries clear. If you only want to kiss, or hold hands, or cuddle, or whatever else, make sure that your partner is on the same page, and make sure that you communicate your wants and needs.

In the end, there will still be people who take what it is they want, regardless of anything else. While I support ongoing work that is helping to create a more sexually accountable community, we're not there yet. We must still operate on the defensive, and that's life. Know what the signs are. Teach each other how to fight back and kick ass. Do what we're doing now, and talk about it. When sexual violence is not something to be ashamed of, or when people can tell their stories and feel safe doing so, that is the first step. In the meantime, the most important thing people can do is heal themselves. Take care of yourselves, understand your pain, understand how it effects your life and those around you. Most of all, be patient. It's a process, and though we contribute to the overall process, change does not happen over night.

Word Nerds lack understanding 22.Dec.2004 11:35


I am pretty certain (without any admission of guilt) that the rapist sees the act as pleasurable or at least potentially pleasurable. That rape is about domination and power is undeniable, but not mutually exclusive of its being fun for one party (or several parties) to the act. To define it as 'this / not that' in such a way is not helpful to understanding it.

Most of the lesbians I know play bondage games with each other and are BDSM identified persons. Some are womyn born womyn and some are MTF transexual / gender queer. A few lesbians I know are _not_ into power plays, but most whom I know are into power plays. This is definitely not a Testosterone issue - it's a deeper need which is being expressed here. I express that desire in my own lovemaking.

BTW, I think that safewords are a great tool and I share that item FIRST with any potential partner. Before the wink, the nod, the kiss, or anything. "Hi - I'm D---, and my safeword is _______." If you don't know what a safeword is, ask google.

All that and I'm a straight white male 'gender as born and raised' person, who does not go to BDSM clubs or swap. Life is complex, folks. You can negotiate all you want, but a landslide will seldom listen.

Nothing too intellectual about it, and nothing that new, either. People have been asking third parties to help with their choices of partners for ages. Or at least for the few hundred years we've had 'romantic love.' Before that, marriage was an arranged affair... romance is a recent cultural artifact. History is complex, too.

thanks for your comment's roddy f bat 22.Dec.2004 11:44


thanks roddy for saying and lending support for what i was feeling intuitively

Whether or not I like to be spanked is beside the point 22.Dec.2004 12:06

Nor Cal

I don't want to be raped. I don't care if you are a rock star, a logger, a tree-sitter, a cop, a government agent or an anti-corporate activist.

I'm not interested in having orders barked at me by cops, loggers, rock stars, tree-sitters, anarchists, etc.

I am not of the mind that we need to save the planet first and then we will deal with patriarchy and sexism after.

I worry about young, idealistic women getting involved with direct action campaigns that ignore or excuse abusive behavior just because the abuser is working to save trees (or animals or whatever). Have things changed up there? They haven't changed here.

women come forward and men need to support regardless 22.Dec.2004 12:13


If more women would come forward publicly about their experiences with men who hide their real intentions until they're alone, men like jim flynn [aka gym flin, aka trust fund activist who grew up with servants in the house], a 'man' who women have spoken about as a repeated violator and manipulator .

But issues with men like him are not dealt with because the good ol' boy cells in the activist network ignore it. Probably because their attitudes don't stretch too far from guys like flynn.

I feel that if when these incidents arise everyone were to get together, put these men on 'trial' and either chastize or excorcize them from the group, I think this behavior will be stopped.

because once they are marked as rapists they won't be able to pull any more innocents into their den.

you mean people take Paglia seriously? 22.Dec.2004 14:20


My favorite quote from Ms. "I'm bringing common sense back into the rape discourse":

"I'm someone who is on the record as being pro-pornography--all the way through kiddie porn and snuff films."

I suspect that if I puked on Camille Paglia she would find it "hot".

Hey if we all just accepted that being raped was hot we wouldn't have a problem. Just like if we would all just accept that killing dark skinned people was hot we wouldn't have a problem with that either. And what about beating gays? They should just dust themselves off and move on because getting beaten up by men is hot.

No 22.Dec.2004 14:34


"It can be difficult, it can even be more than a little corny, but the basic idea is that when you want to move to a higher level of intimacy with another person, you ask them plainly if that is what they want."

A LITTLE corny? It's totally ridiculous. I'm not going to ask a girl if I can kiss her, or take her shirt off. That's beyond wussy. I'm a man, not a little boy. Thanks for the tip though.

When a girl likes you, she WANTS you to try and kiss her, to touch her, to do stuff to her, and CERTAINLY to do so without asking. Ask a young woman walking down the street what she thinks of the idea of a guy ASKING if he can hold her hand, or kiss her on the mouth. She'll laugh at you - and him.

This "Verbal consent" thing isn't going to make any difference to sexual assaulters - creepy losers who ignore all the verbal and non-verbal signals girls are giving them to STOP.

This is PC bullshit that will make no difference to anyone - the normal people, who don't assualt, and the freaks, who do assault.


Yes 22.Dec.2004 14:53

consent is sexy

"A LITTLE corny? It's totally ridiculous. I'm not going to ask a girl if I can kiss her, or take her shirt off. That's beyond wussy. I'm a man, not a little boy. Thanks for the tip though."

So a man is something that takes without asking to prevent being seen as weak? I guess I'm not a man then. I don't give a shit what people think and I treat people with respect. And, interestingly enough, I have great relationships because of it.

"When a girl likes you, she WANTS you to try and kiss her, to touch her, to do stuff to her, and CERTAINLY to do so without asking"

Yes, this is of course what many men believe, especially rapists, but that doesn't make it true.

"Ask a young woman walking down the street what she thinks of the idea of a guy ASKING if he can hold her hand, or kiss her on the mouth."

Give it a try, you might be surprised.

"This "Verbal consent" thing isn't going to make any difference to sexual assaulters"

Sure it will. If our culture transitions to one where consent isn't assumed and must be revoked, as it is now, to one in which consent is offered, that will make all the difference in the world.

"This is PC bullshit that will make no difference to anyone"

Then why not try it if you think it won't make a difference. You may be pleasantly surprised. Better to try things for yourself before speaking against them.

The next time you want to kiss someone, look them in the eyes and say something like "I would really like to kiss you right now". If the person is interested, even if they wouldn't mind you not asking, you'll get that kiss. And, it might be a great kiss because the person may quite likely find both the respect and the verbal statement incredibly sexy.

But don't take my word for it. Try it and decide for yourself. Don't be afraid to try things that challenge your beliefs; you may find them quite rewarding.

Chris 22.Dec.2004 15:16


What you call "wussy", I look at as a matter of simple courtesy. How nice of you to define acceptable and expected masculine behavior for the rest of us. Plainly put, if someone's going to laugh at such a thing, then I wouldn't want to be intimate with them. Their choice, and my choice. In fifteen years I haven't had a problem with any laughter in response.

<This "Verbal consent" thing isn't going to make any difference to sexual assaulters - creepy losers who ignore all the verbal and non-verbal signals girls are giving them to STOP.>

Actually, it's not just for them. Setting soft and firm boundaries in a sexual relationship can keep someone from accidentally straying into painful or even destructive territory without knowing it. It keeps people from doing things they may regret later. All involved benefit from that. Does thinking before you do something really take that much effort? Hell, if you get it out of the way beforehand, it's one less thing you have to think about during, and one or more less things that could screw up something that would otherwise be really enjoyable. This 'man' doesn't enjoy having sex turn into a car wreck because of something that could have easily been avoided. Putting on a condom before sex doesn't take that much time and neither does talking. The time not doing either would save isn't really worth the consequences in my opinion.

<This is PC bullshit that will make no difference to anyone - the normal people, who don't assualt, and the freaks, who do assault.>

Your opinion. You have a right to it. Don't make the decision for the rest of us. Yes the scum who assault women won't care. Why should we be the same? Is it really that difficult? Sex is powerful, chaotic, explosive. If you can't pay attention to your partner and check to see how they're doing once in a while, you deserve to have it blow up in your face.

Chris 22.Dec.2004 17:24


Chris - my guess is that if you are really that cavalier in your attitude ("When a girl likes you, she WANTS you to try and kiss her, to touch her, to do stuff to her, and CERTAINLY to do so without asking.") then you've probably assualted numerous women already.

Has it ever crossed you mind that you might just *think* someone wants you to kiss or touch them but in reality you're wrong?

I don't know you, but with that mindset it seems quite possible that you could wrongly perceive (deluded by your own subjective experience of desire) that someone desires you back.

If you go on that impulse you've just assaulted someone...

Much like other forms of oppressiom (war, racism, class oppression, environmental and animal oppresion), it's flat wrong to suggest that it's not oppressive until the person who is being targetted says "no" before an activity becomes oppressive.

Do you think it's ok to call black people niggers unless one says "hey, stop being racist"? I fail to see the difference.

Bottom-line: assuming you give a shit about other human beings, responsibility begins in the actor, not the person being acted upon.

This is why people use verbal consent rather than assuming someone will say "no". The difference between the subjective assumptions in your head ("s/he want this") and stated feelings (someone saying, "I want this") may be very real.

my couple of scents 22.Dec.2004 21:02


while i can understand the issue of asking permission, i think that it steals from the spontaneity of a moment of tenderness. in truth, if we cannot read our lover we are in some deep trouble since most communication is of a non-verbal nature anyway. just listen to and watch body language for the most important cues and be ever respectful of that. if someone seems reluctant, this would be the ideal time to dialogue.

oh, and with re to "age differential", please do not say this is a problem. we all know that age, sexual orientation, race, religion, etc. means nothing to the heart. thats just all mind fuck stuff that gets in the way of true intimacy.

"heretic" 22.Dec.2004 21:13


you really need to get neutered.

Consent is sexy 22.Dec.2004 23:02

it won't make it true...

...just because you keep saying it.

There are good ideas expressed here, and more third party input re: possible relationships seems at least like it would slow things down long enough to get a better idea of what the principals want. Not such a bad thing.

But the explicit verbal consent thing. erg. For whoever likes that sorta thing, fine. But it's a definite zero-to-flaccid on my barometer. If the non-verbal communication is off, the rest of it is really fucking lame. I guess I'm one of the lucky ones with no problem saying no -- out loud -- and enforcing it. And the few people who've pinned me down got scared enough they let me go when i got really, really mad; so i've been lucky.

Re: physically forced rape or even pressing the no's until you get yes: yep, that sucks and should be negatively sanctioned as such, with different degrees of severity.

woo hoo 23.Dec.2004 02:32

rock/jock talk

> Hunt, pursuit, and capture are biologically programmed into male
> sexuality. ... As a fan of football and rock music, I see in the
> simple, swaggering masculinity of the jock and in the noisy
> posturing of the heavy-metal guitarist certain fundamental,
> unchanging truths about sex.

Whoever wrote this (Paglia?) completely misses the point. Men are so frustrated and alienated by the "hunt, pursuit, capture" game that they will go to ridiculous, absurd lengths -- competing madly for a limited number of "star" opportunities in the two industries cited above, for example -- simply in an attempt to OPT OUT of the goddamn "men always initiate, women almost always reject" game. What the hell is it about being a rock star or a pro football player that's so great? (Of course, besides doing something you like and getting well paid for it) it's that WOMEN CHASE YOU FOR A CHANGE! Hallelujah!

Some guys are offended when women initiate anything. They're called "idiots." I think most men have more sense, even the apparent majority that's been behaviorally crippled by their successful indoctrination in mainstream macho-male culture.

Asking politely is the way to go 23.Dec.2004 15:28


"Ask a young woman walking down the street what she thinks of the idea of a guy ASKING if he can hold her hand, or kiss her on the mouth. She'll laugh at you - and him."

Absolutely not.

At 14 one boyfriend of mine asked before doing anything, and it was the most gentlemanly, romantic thing I have ever experienced. As a result, I felt comfortable enough with him knowing he respected my boundaries (he NEVER pushed) that I went furhter with him than with any of the other boyfriends.

Paglia? I see her as nothing more than a mouthpiece for patriarchal masculinity. It's really easy to tell people that everything and anything they're doing is just great, no need to analyze our desires in sociocultural context and no need to get uselessly "intellectual" about sex. However, considering the history of women's oppression is exactly what has been done to us by men through sexual desire, in our bedrooms, at the core of our sexual personalities, I think it incredibly foolish to mark this entire area of our identities as somehow "off limits" to critical examination by any reasoning.

what no racial critique yet? 23.Dec.2004 16:04


I guess I'm just reiterating the above that "Rape is not the dark side of sex". Rape isn't sex anymore than a mugging is a boxing match.

But I find Paglia to be extremely racist. In her mind:

dark = black = animal/savage/lustful/primitive/unrefined = hot

Thankfully we have "black culture" and "spanish culture" and their forceful, overpowering male lust... Is anyone else getting flashbacks to lynchings?

So I would talk about rape if I wanted to talk about rape and sex if I wanted to talk about sex. I would talk about various aspects of sex which people perceive as less conventional, mainstream, publicly accepted (at least in "polite" society). But I personally wouldn't call any of it "dark". I think most people have engaged in activities that others would label as sinful, evil, etc, and that is something I want to move away from. Sex between people who are comfortable and happy should be seen as healthy regardless of the sexual practices they engage in. Addressing issues of how to get to a place of comfort and happiness, as this article does, is great.

On a lighter note:

>> Some guys are offended when women initiate anything. They're called "idiots."

Ok, in my mind I'm thinking "different strokes for different folks" but I got a huge laugh out of that regardless.

Hadn't thought of that 23.Dec.2004 17:44


You're right, Paglia resorting to more broad, fallacious stereotypes definitley harkens back to the old fears of miscegenation, that all dark-skinned people are barely civilized animals, unable to control for any length of time their lust for raping and despoiling white women. Methinks Camile is so eager to be a maverick that she neglected to pack her brain before embarking on the journey. It's possible that she's entirely lost sight of the idea that one can reject entrenched patriarchy and all of the vile baggage it carries without embracing the stifling, "neutered", male-negative ultra-feminism. I honestly haven't really encountered that particular level of feminism in my life but for one time, and it was easily dealt with. One can be a considerate, caring and fair human being and still be a "man". But it takes work. It's only the extremes of behavior, either macho and posturing or cringing and "neutered", that are easy to fall into.

check yourselves 23.Dec.2004 22:17

this is out of control

Like many of the posts above have said, feminism is often intertwined with racism classism, homophobia ect. (look at when feminism started to really pick up, who was doing all of the organizing?)
It is very important that when people have discussions about feminism they focus on a few things.
1. the idea that male people only rape female people is completely wrong. people of all genders get raped by people of all genders. Rape is not an exclusivly feminist issue.
2.masculinity is not exclusivly male femininity is not exclusivly female. there are more than two genders.
3. not everyone is strong. aka the idea that I could just get mad enough to scare my attacker away is totally biased.
4. people that have come foreward and spoke publicly about their assaults arent tools to be thrown around in discussions about rape. They are not your reference book.
5. in responce to frat parties, I should be able to go in to anyones room (as long as they let me) and expect not to be harmed. In an answer to why that happens I would take a look into the history of sexism and the ways that it effects the minds of women, especially college aged, heterosexual or bisexual, drunk women.
6. rape is not always like it is in the movies. aka just because your partner isnt yelling at you to stop doesnt mean that they want to be having sex with you. The same goes for any kind of contact, whether or not both people think that it is sexual.

I do think that sex is something that should be thought about outside of the tepmptations of of a steamy moment. oppression is something that seeps itself into every moment of our lives, and rarely do you find couples that have the same history of oppression. Especially for people that have been in hurtful and dangerous situations in the past, finding a safe place to make sex a topic rather than a force is exceptionally beneficial.

About intellectualization... 24.Dec.2004 15:46

original poster... Lighten it Up

As far as the over-intellectualization people have ascribed to Verbal Consent, etc, I just want to say that I thought of it more as an intuitive process. It took me almost as long to read the Paglia quotes (because they were thought-provoking) as I would expect it to take someone to read my post. But I don't think Paglia is over-intellectualization the issues.

The issues or techniques I bring up are designed to make intimacy more profound and rewarding. You could call it a form of soxial education for all people, in Paglia's terms if you wanted to. There's all sorts of different ways of looking at sexuality, and some people already have highly-developed ideas. But for those who don't, I was offering some suggestions.

They imply some level of practice - it sure is hard the first time to really truthfully state to a attractive person what you want from them. But the techniques I was suggesting aren't merely designed to put the brakes on intimacy between people. They can be applied rather quickly. There's a lot of individual variations on how people can interpret what I was suggesting, and I admit I'm a little surprised at the range of responses. For example, involving Community Consensus in relationships could mean anything from formal spokescouncil style meetings, to chatting with some of your friends at the Laundromat. It could lead to all sorts of things, like nixing a potential relationship, to illuminating that there's a hidden possibility for group relationship for those who are into that. In all cases, beating back isolation, and opening communications with others has the potential to make life more engaging.

There are obviously some who don't want life to be like that, and I say more power to them. Some people even like to be self-destructive, and I don't like to see that, but can't really do anything about it. On the other hand, people like Chris who are supremely confident and macho, yet still maybe afraid to approach a question directly, probably are in some danger of forcing their will on others, which could possibly lead to the feeling that someone has been violated. People need to live their own lives, and in the realm of intimate/sexual relationships where there are so few healthy models or guides, we really are alone. I don't want to see my community get torn apart any more like it has in the past, but if it does, I'll still be there to try to pull together the mess. But I hope these ideas can play out there more and bring people to happiness instead of bitterness, terror or guilt.

Hysteria Collective 27.Dec.2004 22:44


There is a flier about this and I think some of you folks need to be checking this out.
Consent Workshop: January 6th, 6pm at 5266 ne 15th Ave.

I do not understand 14.Jun.2005 08:44

Tim Singleton timsingleton@bww.com

I do not understand 1) how a man can FORCE himself on an unwilling woman, 2)how he can use something like a date rape drug, or 3) how he can perpertrate any violenec whatsoever against a woman. She is smaller and fragile and deserves to be PROTECTED, not victimized by men.

I look at the woman I honor most. 5', maybe. 99lbs. My forearm is the size of her calf. Her ex beat on her. I think about someone hitting her and I become non-verbal, a dangerous state for me.

So, your girl bitches day and night. So what? If the men in this country were MEN and worth following, women wouldn't have had to take up for themselves and provide for themselves and the USA wouldn't be the shithole it is today. Do YOUR damn job and take care of business and I bet the bitching levels will drop. You shouldn't have to be told this. Dumbass.

Understand, I am 6' and 280-295lbs with a 36" waist. I get in the ring and I FIGHT for fun.It really is a good time for me. But when I see some of you little bastards hitting your girlfriends, then God have mercy on you because I will not.

If my girl slaps me in anger, I am in no danger. If I slap her in anger, I can cause her a concussion. I know what needs to be done with regards to these issues, but the so called alw will not allow it.