This post contains coarse language. You have been warned.
In the era of #MeToo, ass-clown and probably pedophile Matt Gaetz, ex-President and serial sexual molester Trump, and the years-long focus on sexual predation, powerful men being outed as predators (Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Matt Lauer, et alia), you’d think the rules on sexual consent would be clear to my idiot gender by now.
I can’t even imagine how frustrated women must be by this. “No means no, you boneheads! Where is the confusing part!” Well, that’s not the confusing part. The confusing part, and where we men are dumb, testosterone-filled, hard-on-driven morons, is the withdrawal-of-consent portion.
Up front I want to explain that I am not Not NOT excusing our behavior. No. NO NO NO. I’m explaining why we seem like such a bunch of dumb bunnies whose blood has all run down into our genitalia. Partly because it has, and partly because we don’t get how consent can be withdrawn.
I know; “How can you be so stupid?” Well, that’s what I’m here to tell you.
See, for a long time, the whole point of consent from a guy perspective was, once you finally had it—through marriage, or engagement, or “going steady”, or whatever—you had it for good. A marriage license was a license to have sex whenever you wanted, whether your partner wanted or not. “Going steady” meant you got to make out with your partner, with some ground rules (“I’m not that kind of girl!” mean no PiV sex). Or whatever. But the idea in the boneheaded male brain was, fine, negotiations over, we’re done.
I’m not saying this is reasonable, or fair, or okay, or equitable. I’m not saying we should go back to this. I’m agreeing this is patriarchal BS. Unfortunately the vast majority of men carry it in the back of their tiny little brains at all times. Guy thinks: Once we’ve negotiated consent with you, we’re done. If you agreed to have sex, we get to have sex. If you agreed once, that’s it forever. If your clothes are off, we’re going to have sex. Etc. No more negotiations! Consent achieved!
Obviously, this is insanity.
But I’m telling you, this is what guys are thinking when their dicks are hard (if you can call it thinking). Not about birth control, or negotiation, or (often) your pleasure; that they already have consent to have sex. It’s a done deal. So when a guy is told at some point, “Stop,” a part of him (or if he’s an incel ass-clown, basically all of him) is utterly bewildered. “Duuuuuh, what? But you said ‘Yes’ [yesterday | last week | in 2011 when I married you | when you downed that fifth margarita ]. What do you mean, ‘Stop’?”
And of course, the closer you get to the actual moment of PiV sex with us knuckleheads, the more this cognitive dissonance is going to cause neuron failure, and who knows what will happen then. If he’s actually bending over you, nude, johnson in hand, all bets are off. Will he become enraged? Faint? Head explode like a Cronenberg film? One hopes he’ll say, “Of course not, babe; maybe later? Do you want some water? Are you warm enough?” And I’m sure some percentage of guys (including me, I hope) will do so. But scroll back, read, and see what you think.
There is a way to combat this utter nonsense, and that’s education and persistence. My son Joseph is autistic. And with Joseph, to get him to understand a concept I have to tell it to him in brief, answer his questions about it (but not go into too much detail or he’ll get bored and tune me out), and then revisit it. Over and over and over. But the good news is, he does end up getting it. Folks on the autism spectrum are supposed to not understand empathy. But you know what? After living together in close quarters with me, Joseph brings me coffee and biscuits while I’m working, offers to make me food, and does other things on the “empathy” scale. (It’s pretty awesome, honestly.)
If he can learn this stuff, your average lunk-headed, penis-driven man can learn consent as well.
I’m not saying it’s fair we have to train men like this; it’s not. Of course it’s not. But I’m trying to recognize reality here. Men are idiots. You can either bail on us—and I wouldn’t blame you if you did—or you can dig in. Just keep repeating it to us—well, not me; I think I have it now, but you know what I mean—slowly, simply, until we get it.
- “Look, Biff; just because we had sex last week doesn’t mean you can grope me in Safeway whenever you like.”
- “Saaed, I’m not in the mood, so get please let me just read my book. Yes, I’m serious!”
- “Yes Roger, I know you’re ‘hard as a rock,’ but I changed my mind and you’ll just have to live with that.”
- “Juan, you push that thing against me again and I’ll have Madame Maxime lock you in a chastity cage so fast it’ll make your head spin.”
Yes, I know I’m being mildly humorous with these examples, but I’m deadly serious about the thinking behind what’s causing guys to behave the way we do. We think “consent once”=”consent always”. Furthermore, that some things no sane person would consider “consent” do equal consent: Being unconscious, being drunk, being stoned, being high on nitrous oxide; being frightened or otherwise emotionally distraught (say by peer pressure). This idiocy can only be countered by constant and sustained repetition of the facts:
- No means no
- Consent must be pro-actively given
- A partner can change their mind and withdraw consent at any time
You’d think this would be simple and obvious. It isn’t. I’m truly sorry it isn’t, and that my gender is such a bunch of idiots, but we are. I’m doing what I can on my end, I promise.