Tobold's Blog
Friday, January 26, 2018
A question of consent and confusion

I would like to ask my American readers to leave now, as I am going to discuss some thoughts about sex which might offend the puritan.

I am very happy that I am over 50 and married, because if I was a young man I would be very much confused by now. According to polls a lot of young people in America these days believe that complimenting a woman or asking her for a date is sexual harassment. And you can't read the news these days without reading some report on there being a "rape culture", with an implied or even outspoken presumption that all men are rapists.

Fact is that the overwhelming majority of men are not rapists, by any reasonable definition of the term including all forms of non-consensual sex. While it is certainly true that rape is under-reported as a crime, even if you consider a 90% rate of under-reporting, that would raise the rape rate in the USA from 30 per 100,000 population to 300 per 100,000 population. Which still leaves over 99% of men being not rapists. In Germany some time ago there were some cases of sexual harassment committed by immigrants, which led to the far right claiming things like "all Muslim men are rapists". The liberal left loudly protested against such a sweeping and obviously untrue statement. I'm still waiting for the same reasoning to be applied to the defense of white, non-immigrant men.

I totally applaud the movement of outing pigs like Harvey Weinstein up to and including the point where they should go to prison for any rapes they committed. However I do think there are important values enshrined in our justice system, like people being considered innocent until proven guilty, which I see somewhat in danger in some of the cases. There have been cases where the falsehood of a rape accusation could be proved in court, although of course that takes years and by the time the media career of the accused is long dead. Thus a presumption that all men are rapists is not only unfair, but actually a danger to the rule of law.

What must be confusing for young people is that at the same time harmless flirting is being criminalized, the access to sexual images and even sex has never been easier. Doubly confusing if you hear that the changes to laws about prostitution in many European countries are called "liberalization", while the puritans in the media complaining about men's sexual advances are also called "liberals". You end up with a view of the world where there are "good girls" which you better even don't look at, better not talk to other than professionally, and certainly never touch, and there are "bad girls" on porn sites, webcam broadcasts, Tinder, in strip clubs or brothels (NSFW). I'm sure some people concluded that the crime of the Presidents Club was to have invited the wrong kind of girl to their party.

There is a strong correlation of that with economic inequality. The "good girls" are generally richer than the "bad girls". In other words, they are the same girls, they are just on different levels of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, and so they differ in the relative importance they place on money and on being treated like a lady. Instead of blaming all men and starting a gender war, maybe we could come a lot closer to universal respectful interactions between men and women by introducing universal basic income.

Universal basic income is a wonderful idea. It could create a society where no one works, and everyone just live for his passion. The moment it's introduced I'll quit my job and play only video games. I can't wait!
Here's the thing: I cannot begin to imagine how annoying it would be to go through life being pestered by total strangers on a daily basis. The poll shows only ~15% of women think (presumably non-solicited) drinking invitations are harassment, but I see no issues with ~40% of young people thinking "complimenting on attractiveness" is harassment. Because, really, it kinda is. Who cares that you found a random woman attractive? Maybe some women would welcome the attention, but many others are just trying to go about their day, and couldn't care less about how you feel about the way she looks. In your effort to "be nice" you've trapped her into an unwelcomed social interaction that has to play out a specific way in order to avoid a scene/invite possible physical harassment, e.g. "I complimented you, bitch!"

I don't see any of this as puritanical so much as treating people with respect. When I was younger, I thought telling a pretty girl that she was pretty would make her day. I didn't realize that her fake smile was from having to be stopped in the street a dozen times a day by strangers ostensibly noting their willingness to have sex. If you feel compelled to compliment a woman, point out her good work on the project (etc). If you don't know her well enough to know what projects she's working on, keep your "compliments" to yourself.
@Azuriel: The problem is that if you make it a criminal offense to make compliments or ask somebody out, that rule would not only apply to total strangers. Do you have a significant other? If yes, I am certain that at one point in the courtship process you must have made compliments and asked her/him out. So you must agree that in the course of human relations and courtship, at some point compliments and requests for dates are normal and acceptable behavior, not sexual harassment.

If you insist on only talking about the extremes, then I would argue the other extreme, that if courtship is criminalized, then the human race will die out within a few generations.
Context is key.
I can see how both asking someone out for a drink (from person in a position of power) or commenting on their looks (and overlooking an achievement) could be harassment, especially if it is frequent and unsolicited. I understand why some people might establish 100% rules if they constantly suffering low-level harassment or if they are asocial and unable to understand other people, but ultimately that is opting out of society. Anyone looking to successfully relationships with others needs to deploy a degree of empathy and consider the needs, emotions and behaviors of other people when communicating.
There is no such thing as "harmless flirting". Never was, never will be. If it was genuinely harmless it wouldn't be flirting. Also, what Azuriel said.

I agree with the universal income idea though. It's been a staple of SF since at least the 50s and like most science fiction social tropes it seems more likely as each year passes.
There was an article on not long back where they categorized smiling at someone as harassment.

The end result of our current path is that women will be treated less equal than ever. There will be widespread fear and paranoia regarding working with, for, or managing women. That will be the real tragedy of this trend.

...waiting for some jack wagon to call me uninformed again...
The real problem is we currently seem to categorize everything as either "rape" or "not rape, so just get over it." There are a lot of things which are probably some level of bad and we should discourage, but we have no way of doing that without stringing the man up and ruining his life. One side (understandably) sees that as a huge overreaction given the situation, and so refuses to admit anything was done wrong at all. The other side sees that something was done wrong and refuses to admit that a virtual death penalty is an overreaction.

One big thing you are leaving out is the context of the workplace. I can agree that in most other contexts, "unwanted sexual advances" is an (almost certainly intentionally) overly broad term that typically means normal rejection. In the workplace, it's an issue. Maybe a third of guys are assholes who will be angry, and will intentionally try to sabotage her career. Maybe another third will be embarrassed and won't handle it well socially, which is another problem no one wants to deal with. And that assumes a regular coworker. If it's a boss, it almost certainly means she has to find a new job. Now again, this isn't "rape," but it's not nothing either.

So I think your "dystopian future" where no one can make any advances on anyone else is probably coming, but only to the workplace. You can't hit on the receptionist anymore. Get over it.
I've been married for nearly 20 years now to the woman who was in the office next to mine when I started my job. That is how nearly 18 percent of people find their future spouse.

Note that "consent" is impossible if you don't allow propositioning in the first place. As people are still having sex, getting into relationships, and getting married, there *must* be a socially acceptable way to initiate that whole process.

The first place where smiling at each other, complimenting each other, asking each other out for a drink, etc. will be made illegal is on the campus of some Californian university. Any remotely friendly gesture to somebody else (not just women, because we have to make the rule gender neutral and applicable to all sorts of sexual orientations) is punished by the student being immediately expelled. You can only hook up via apps like Tinder, provided that you both sign a notarized consent form. Is it just me or are the people coming out of that university going to be seriously weird for life?
Stop acting like machines that require complicated rules to cope with all the variables surrounding the nuanced between people. It is a standard human issue that requires decent 2-way communication. Harassment occurs because people ignore or silence the other party, either deliberately or through inattention.
The only rule should be too listen and respect each other. Since that doesn't always happen, people have suggested a standard which some people from a variety of positions have slippery sloped into "No fraternising" rules on the basis that good communication is hard so we should avoid the issue by not interacting at all.
As a conservative, I find your suggestion of a universal income to be insulting. It is a cop-out move that insinuates that America can never come to the table on equal terms when it comes to men and women, pay and power dominance. While the majority of men are most certainly not rapists, the defining roles and precepts of dating and relationships -have- to change if equality is to be achieved. We no longer live in a world where men are considered the sole "bread winners" of the family, and women are most certainly more than capable of putting food on the table and paying the bills. Men need to get past the belief that if a woman is in charge of anything, that we will be relegated to intense negotiations every 28 days. While the majority of men aren't rapists, the majority do embrace generational views that men are not supposed to be "stay at home moms", or are made "submissive" if they let their wife assume roles that would jeopardize those generational views. When a societal shift occurs, much like what is going on now with equality in the workplace, everything surrounding that shift -has- to change. Dating, courtship and relationships must be redefined in order to make it all amicable.
@Tobold: there ARE proper places to meet and hook up. Namely:
- bars
- dating apps
- dating sites

No one, even blue haired feminists say that it's harassment to approach a woman sitting alone in a bar in a sexy dress and offer her a drink. It's quite obvious why she is sitting there. Just like she signed up on that dating site for obvious reasons. But if she is sitting in a restaurant in a business compatible dress, then maybe she doesn't welcome some random stranger announcing his intention to f. her.

Let me add an old blogpost:
Polite opinion becomes ever stranger, so much so that impolite opinion is making a great resurgence.

A few years ago, some American students were punished for chanting "No Means Yes!". But even so, few thought that progressive doctrine would soon hold that "Yes Means No!"

I had an odd idea today. Perhaps there should be consent classes for women too, in which they are taught that "No, I don't want to" communicates a negative better than "I don't think we should". Particularly when sitting naked with a man after just having had what all but Bill Clinton would agree was sexual activity.

With regard to your other point: I never thought of Universal Basic Income in terms of gender equality, but who knows, perhaps it makes sense. But it's normally thought of in the context of rapidly increasing automation. And of course very many societies have already had it for many years, only with a high age qualification.

I think the concern is that for the first generation of recipients, indoctrinated all their lives with a need to feel useful to society, the results would be excellent. But for subsequent generations, not so much. The pension model is one model of UBI. Another is families who have lived for several generations on social welfare.
No one, even blue haired feminists say that it's harassment to approach a woman sitting alone in a bar in a sexy dress and offer her a drink.

Unfortunately that statement is blatantly untrue. Women sitting alone in a bar in a sexy dress *do* complain of sexual harassment if the guy offering them a drink isn't Mr. Right. And people have been complaining as well about sexual harassment on Tinder.
As a conservative, I find your suggestion of a universal income to be insulting. It is a cop-out move that insinuates that America can never come to the table on equal terms when it comes to men and women, pay and power dominance.

The track record of America on the subject doesn't really seem much better that that of everyone else.... When it comes to inequality and exploitation, America is also not really the world's role model, either. The "insinuation" is well grounded in reality, I'd say.

And you ALREADY have universal income. It's called giving out loans to people who cannot repay them and then using state money to bail out the banks. The money takes a longer path, but the effect is the same.

"The track record of America on the subject doesn't really seem much better that that of everyone else."

I think the recent scandals and debaucheries of prominent men are a good continuation of what started several years ago. This isn't about America being a role model, it's about the women of this country saying enough is enough and outing these bad men who exhibit the very activities and behaviors that Tobold touches on in his post. Men in power who abuse women are no different than rapists, and it is an obvious indicator of their ingrained beliefs on how women should be treated. These kind of men should be rooted out and punished, setting the stage for the removal of sexist oppression in certain industries. Women who were afraid to speak out a couple of years ago are now coming forward and outing the very men whose power and influence kept them silent for so long. It's a good thing.
@Tobold: that article is about actual harassment, like grabbing someone's private parts, not attempting to chat.

@Noguff: "men in power" is a nonsense. Weinstein didn't have power over the actresses, because "being in a Miramax movie" isn't a right that can be infringed. If someone says "you must do sexual favors for me for salary" and a woman says yes, the man isn't a harasser. The woman is a prostitute, (which is defined as "doing sexual favors for salary"). Those women could just flip the bird and walk away, but they stayed. They weren't even impoverished women who'd starve without salary, they were rich and famous women, who just wanted to be more rich and more powerful. Was he a pig? Yes. Was he someone I'd never be friends? Yes. Did he do anything illegal? No (unless it turns out he raped someone, meaning using force or threat of using force to get sex).
As an American asked to leave the conversation I'll only ask that you provide more than a link to garbage like The Daily Wire to justify this discussion and its assumptions.
The Daily Wire piece links to the Economist, which has a big graphic showing the graphs of poll responses by question, country and age...
I would have linked directly to the Economist, but for me that article was behind a paywall.
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