Columns Aug 28, 2013 at 4:00 am

Sail Away


@200: "...we both know that entering an intimate relationship with someone implies a degree of consent to sexual contact, and that the degree is negotiable. Laws about what happens when there's no consent (as opposed to some consent) are a derail."- Eudaemonic, @193

Eudaemonic is explicitly stating that because my friend's boyfriend was her boyfriend, that he inherently had SOME consent. That is not true. He had NO consent from her in those instances because she specifically, repeatedly told him to stop what he was doing.

And I'm not equating your argument with Eudaemonic's disgusting (hey!) statement; I'm saying I think HIS statement alone (and anyone who would think that) is foul. Hope that clears everything up for you.

EricaP: When did you decide that lolorhone's friend was making a "tasteless joke?"

In post #20 (responding to someone who thought the friend's reaction was far too extreme, you said: "he's assaulting her. She didn't open the switchblade, she just showed that she was serious about protecting herself from further assault."

But by #126, you had done a complete about-face:
"I'm with those who say you can't judge lolorhone's friend's actions as abusive from the information given. There is such a thing as nuance, and healthy relationships can include off-color humor about violence if that humor is okay with both partners."

I'm curious: what in the exchanges over the thread between #s 18-125 made you decide that she was no longer being assaulted and making a serious threat in response but was making a bad joke in response to an annoyance?


Yes, but I believe in giving the benefit of the doubt in judging people, innocent until proven guilty, and generally not pronouncing sentences on people/situations I do not know.

This is that "we can't convict someone we don't know just based on what we heard" bullshit with which we're all so familiar. Two points: One, you are aware, aren't you, that we're not actually sending her to jail, right? None of us are on a jury, and she is not on trial. So everything you just said is irrelevant; I'm sure you know this.

Two? I don't know what "proven guilty" means to you, but I stop at innocent until you pull out a knife and threaten to stab your partner. Once you do that, you're no longer innocent of doing that. The benefit of the doubt only exists when there is doubt.
@205: I appreciate your post and your story, and am genuinely sorry you went through that. I think it's probably for the best that you restrained yourself, though I'd sympathize (to say the least) if you had beaten the crap out of him; were I on a jury I'd find it hard to convict you, let's put it that way.

In my case I was quite a bit younger, but there was a network of adults around who would have prevented any escalation (or allowing him to be alone with me for more than a brief moment). However they didn't see his games of grab-ass as enough of a reason to start what would've been a huge fight. For me, they were little more than an annoyance.

The thing is, though, I don't see lolorhone's friend as a terrorized person. (Nor was I, FWIW.) Annoyed, sure, and probably feeling a bit violated. But terrorized, enough that a violent response could be excused or legitimately invoked? Nope, I just don't think grab-ass from an existing partner rises to that threshold.
@201: There are causes when lines are crossed most of the time. That there's a cause, doesn't, in general, justify crossing the line.
so @lolorhone:
which is it: he deserved it or she crossed a line? Because you can't have both.
If he deserved it, what she did was right. Not "perhaps understandable under the circumstances," but right. Do you think it was?
(FWIW, I think half of what adz writes is MRA crap loaded with "us poor men are victims" bs and I think given the status of the US's penal system I'd avoid sending people to jail as much as possible. Just making sure I'm not dragged into those things by association)
@209 Dang, I thought we had the power to convict, as bestowed by the Deity known as Dan Savage. Sarcasm, but yes, I am aware. But that doesn't mean we should just jump to conclusions, and defending it is exactly my point. There is a reasonable middle ground, and it is:

"Both were wrong, but we shouldn't go to such extremes to defend some bad behavior or in judging the consequences that should be doled out."

But, you arguing is proving the point that both sides should rub one out and calm down.
I'm bored with the comments on LW2 so I'm striking off on my own with LW1. I had something similar happen to me once. We were both turned on. He was hard. He asked me to masturbate for him, and I did. The moment after I came, I motioned for him to get inside me, but he was soft. It took him a moment of his own masturbating before he got hard again. That was ages ago, and I haven't thought about it for a while.

I understand that the LW would be perturbed if it's happened more than once with different partners.

I like Dan's theory #2. I'd also suggest that if her being intimidating is causing the men to go temporarily soft, and if she doesn't like that, she might consider not being quite so intimidating. That's for her own sake, not for the guys'.

On the other hand, she seems to have reached that conclusion on her own. She says that generally after a few times they stop having the problem. Perhaps after a few times, they feel less intimidated. Problem solved.
@212, 213: I think he crossed a line and then, in reaction, she crossed a line. I think he deserved to be scared out of violating her body/space. I think he took the exchange outside of the realm of the appropriate when he groped her in front of her friends and coworkers and after she had repeatedly (over the course of months) told him not so. Legally, he'd probably win in court. Doesn't mean his line-crossing did nothing to legitimately provoke her line-crossing. (BTW, I don't think you could call her threat murderous- injurious, but not murderous)

And I appreciate your even-handedness and your restraint in not getting personal. Truly.
@207: You're mixing up two different levels of discussing consent. In the context of a sexual relationship, there's an assumption that a steady stream of intimate bodily contact between two people is normative. That's a different discussion from whether consent has been given or withdrawn for a particular act at a particular time.

Generally speaking, the law really isn't very interested in policing the niceties of non-violent, non-genital, non-coercive physical interactions between people in an ongoing sexual relationship. If a stranger grabs your ass on the street and they're prosecuted, what's really being addressed is that act's potential for damage to society, not an affirmation of your right to lead an existence utterly free of unwanted contact and have every intrusion on your person punished.

Unwanted grab-ass between otherwise-consenting sexual partners doesn't meet that standard. It may be technically illegal, but it doesn't harm society in any meaningful way, and the law's not going to be interested -- any more than it would be interested if a girl stuck her finger up my ass, I told her "I don't like that, please don't do it" and then she did it again a week later. And it'd be ESPECIALLY uninterested if she kept doing it and I didn't terminate the relationship, not because I was being coerced or threatened to get me to stay, but because I found her otherwise appealing and hoped she'd stop.

Does your friend's boyfriend's ass-grabbing behavior suck? Sure, it sucks. But quit trying to give her a rape victim's halo. Having your ass grabbed by your sexual partner in public may be embarrassing or humiliating, but it doesn't entitle us to respond with threats of deadly violence, and no one should laud us for doing so. And frankly, I don't think the exterior of the backside is some magical body part anyway; if her boyfriend put his arm around her in public one time too many, and she threatened to shiv him, we wouldn't be having this conversation -- but I don't really see much of a difference.
@213: How the fuck did I get anointed the representative of "send her to prison"? I never argued for it.

As for "MRA crap", not my scene; most of the MRA sites I've seen are too mired in anger and conservative value systems. But I'm ceaselessly amused by those people who think that the path to equality is for men to take the blame for everything and feel guilty for having been born, and somehow that will end rape and women's oppression -- as if guilt and self-loathing ever led to a happier world. (Meanwhile, the men who actually commit these crimes laugh and keep doing 'em.) It's a gas, it really is, to watch overprivileged, (mostly) white people fall all over themselves to find any possible pretext to stoke their sense of righteous indignation -- so long, of course, as they never have to step out from behind the safety of their computer keyboard.
@97 "And yet she didn’t leave him. They are still together two years later."

For which I am personally very grateful. These two idiots deserve each other. I am very glad that these to idiotic, dysfunctional people chose to stay together rather than inflict their crazy on other, normal people.

Crazy psychos should be together. They understand each other and deserve each other. And it keeps the rest of the dating world safer.
@208 I don't remember really, but let's say I identified with lolorhone’s friend from the beginning. Old Crow’s response @18 annoyed me, and I spoke up to suggest that, yes, she was within the realm of proportional response.

The conversation continued, and you posted @34 that if she couldn’t get him to stop without the threat of violence, then her only option was dumping him. I was probably still identifying with her, and got defensive on her behalf.

I tried to imagine what I would have meant if I had picked up a knife and said, “I’ll shank you” to a friend or partner. I certainly wouldn’t have meant for them to believe themselves in danger. But it brought to mind many occasions when my husband and I have casually joked about violence; one of us is sharpening the knives, let’s say, and looks over at the other person with bloodthirsty eyes. It’s funny, to us. And posts @39 & @47 about how it wasn’t even okay “in jest” or “as a joke” riled me up. Avast’s comments about how “the ride home would include a stop by the police station” bugged me too – it sounded like he wasn’t actually scared of her violence, or he wouldn’t give her a ride anywhere; he just wanted to stop her from standing up for herself.

And then I thought of the joke my husband used to tell, alleging that I’d kill him if he touched another woman. And that made me identify even further with lolorhone’s friend, albeit unconsciously adjusting her story to my purposes along the way. Alison had a firmer grasp on the woman’s actual motivations, I suppose.
I think my issue is with Lolorhone's description of the incident, more than the details. If I were narrating the story from his point of view I'd say something like "One of my female friends had this problem, and in the heat of the moment she reacted in this problematic way, and it seems to have worked out surprisingly well for the couple since (touch wood)". But L. approves of her pulling a knife on this guy ("he deserved it, and it worked" #75), and he goes on to describe a relationship where one party is, in his words, afraid of the other, as a "loving" one. Well, either the guy's afraid of the girlfriend, OR it's a loving relationship: relationships that mix those things are by definition disfunctional/abusive.

And I am by no means as nonchalant as Lolorhone that this is part of the past between them. The couple have established that it's OK for her to threaten him with a knife when she's drunk and angry. What happens the next time she's drunk and angry? (Think that's NEVER going to happen again? Really?) Let's say years from now he cheats on her, and then confesses some time when they're both drunk, 'cause he's too scared of her loving kindness to confess when he's sober. People do that sort of thing. What happens then? Stabitty-stab-stab? Maybe so, maybe not, but if I were a friend or relative of the boyfriend it's not a risk I'd want him to take. I would want him to run fast and run now from that relationship. (And there's no contradiction between saying that and saying that she would have been justified for dumping him for his ass-grabbing, which I also believe.)
@217: Nobody needs or deserves a halo here. Let's just agree to disagree, this has been pointless for awhile now.
And I still don't think "afraid" has to mean "afraid of her physical violence." I think it can mean "afraid that she won't be a sweet & docile wife."

Lolorhone? You're the one who used the word. Is he afraid of her hurting him? Or afraid that she'll leave him?
So I read the first 30-something comments, and nearly 200 comments later you are still talking about the same topic. Wow! ... Just me stating obvious facts I find interesting, don't pay any attention to my ramblings.
Thank you, EricaP.
I find the way we all project our own histories and issues onto these letters or stories fascinating. We all do it. And then in the end, we're all arguing with someone else about something having very little to do with the original letter.
@221: The first 3 months of this relationship were indeed fucked up- and wholly separate from the dynamic they have now. It took that particularly fucked up night to make him realize that his drinking was out of control and affecting his relationship- and for her to realize that she could not go on tolerating his drunk aggression w/r/t her body and space. They both agreed that getting to that point was not worth it, so if they were to continue seeing each other, major shit had to change. And it has- he monitors his drinking and the last thing she got mad at him about was leaving the toilet seat up. Taking those first months (or just that one night) and extrapolating a personality out of it for either one of them is foolish and narrow-minded.


Perhaps my non-chalance had to do with the fact that I not only knew how the story ended, I know them.
@223: Definitely the latter. Funnily enough, they're kind of gross-adorable now. Both of them would be devastated if it didn't work out.
exactly what @221 says: It's the telling that's problematic. And with that I'm out.
@Erica P, @Nocutename

Regardless of where either of you stood on the issue, you were respectful and thoughtful and I truly appreciate it.
I once lived among a people among whom inappropriate touching of another's erogenous zones in public, regardless of the supposed relationship, would almost certainly have led at least to a display of weapons if not something more serious. You can say they were savages, but I thought they had great self-possession and dignity. It probably helps to have some boundaries you're serious about.
just a word... i didn't read the knife story as a threat of 'assault'- despite the words used, but as a very direct defense "here is the line, DO NOT cross it".
although i can't imagine being in a relationship where that level of defense was required, i have been in that situation : where entitled arseholes (friends of a friend, at a party) thought that the word 'no' was meaningless, and that it was cool to sexually intimidate a 16 year old; and they needed to be shown that i was to be taken seriously. i was drawing a line - this is my body and i will defend it - not threatening to attack. there is a difference. but i know that they thought i was crazy, and my response unjustified. for the record, they had hand-cuffed me without consent, and were refusing to release me.
Dan, not sure if you will get this, but on, someone came up with a slogan to deal with sponsors who are still sponsoring the Russian Homophobic Olympics: "NOT BUYING IT".

Simple. Terse. Sums up everything.

Feel free to run with it.


Washington, DC
Ms Cummins - I thought I made it quite clear that I didn't have to like their relationship.

Mr Rhone - Thank you for the information that he has curbed his drinking problem. Had I not been posting at 4:30 a.m., I'd have emphasized that you are the only one who actually knows these people. I am not entirely convinced that they didn't just luck into their relationship's working well for them now, but I do also sympathize with you.
Unwanted touching is a misdemeanor.

Displaying a deadly weapon and making threats is a misdemeanor and at least 2 felonies.

It is highly likely that, had a cop witnessed this, the girl would now be a felon. The people saying she got away with it because she's a woman sound like MRAs. She got away with it because no one called the cops, not because of her gender.

There is no right to after the fact self defense, she only has the right to use however much force is needed to stop the attack.

Alison described proper use of force: stopping something that is currently happening. Also appropriate level, the minimum effective level.
@206. Really, you need to calm down. You are being deliberately inflamatory. I agree that threatening someone with a knife is a bridge too far, but nowhere in this story did she say "I will murder you." you are also being fairly naive about the likely criminal consequences if the police had been called that night. I work in the field, so know from experience. Didn't Dan just share a recent link on his blog about how an adult teacher got a 30-day prison sentence for raping a 14-year-old child? (A sentence that rightly outrages all intelligent people.) The woman was clearly out of line and it seems most everyone, including her friend here, acknowledges that.

It is hard to always know, in the cool and sober light of day, how one will react to a violation in the drunken heat of the moment. Not all of us will react in an ideal or thoughtful manner. We can be ashamed, apologize, avoid the set ups for those situations in the future, and hope they never occur again.

A little compassion and restraint from name-calling would do wonders for your cause here.
Lolorhone: Thanks for the nod. And thank you for not lashing out at me when I took it upon myself to theorize what you were doing and why. This clearly hit a nerve with a lot of people and I think several things were said by several people that probably were not really meant.
In reality, most of us were probably a lot closer to each other than some wanted to admit. Sometimes it's fun just to argue in the abstract and push a point, which is what it seemed a few people were doing here, so the rhetoric got more and more inflamed. I at least appreciate that the SLOG crowd is an articulate and eloquent bunch.
@FEM: This is one of the many reasons I avoid what I call linear sex. Loosening things up, changing the order of things, being more playful, doing things to each other instead of going through a routine that must end with Phase One Completion, i.e., your orgasm, keeps everyone much happier and more engaged. For me, fucking for brief-ish periods of "foreplay" time (a word which reinforces the linear sex idea, and which I usually avoid but am using here for obvious reasons) is very exciting. Perhaps a bit more talking ahead of time would help, too. I myself would have trouble with the rather regimented sex you've described. The fear that you won't get an orgasm unless you manage it and take care of it first may disappear if you allow for more freedom than you are right now and add a little bit of trust to the mix. And maybe don't buy into the idea that once he's come, sex is over. Sex isn't over until both people have come as many times as they want to, in whatever order.
Sounds like some people could do with more manners and less drinking.
I find it disturbing how many people think nothing of sending someone to prison...nevermind the fact that assault is a misdemeanor, battery is a misdemeanor (at least in my state, unless you have a prior conviction), and calling it "attempted murder" is flat out hyperbole and exaggeration; and who are also of the mindset that her threat was retaliation and not defending her boundaries. @189 This human would happily date Lolorhone, he could threaten me with a knife every day and I would have great fun practicing my knife defense;)
@239: I am genuinely touched, tachycardia. But I'm more of a nunchaku guy myself : )
It's pretty obvious that the reason FEM's dates lose their boners is her shitty attitude. The very fact that she blames the situation on "Fragile Male Ego" and "dick panic" is a dead giveaway. Penises know when someone has contempt for them. And her sense that she is always entitled to come first just confirms what a shitty attitude she has. Also, if she had decent blow job technique, which would include genuine enthusiasm, the guys probably would get it up again. Her mistake is believing the guys when they say they are turned on. They are just being polite.
With FEM, besides her kind of shitty attitude, there might be a problem of simply stopping all the time. I learned this the hard way (through experience): If a girl is very orgasmic, and just starts coming and coming and coming and coming, one after another...and, importantly, resting briefly after each time (either by pushing him away a little or demanding that he stop)...she may well put herself into a rhythm that totally fucks the guy she's, well, fucking. He starts to build to orgasm, aaaaaand, she came, we're stopping for a second to let her catch her breath. Oh, good, we're going again, building, almost there, aaaaaaaaand, she came, we're stopping again. Fuck. Oh, good, going again, getting there, getting there, getting there, aaaaand, great. Great. Just. Fuckin'. Great.

I dated a very nice girl, wild in the sack, who was like exactly that. The angle would be right, I'd be on the verge, and she'd come and drop her legs in such a way that I couldn't maintain the angle or get deep enough to finish -- and by the time we started again, I wasn't close anymore. I'd keep getting almost there, and never make it. I finally had to tell her "come all you want, but if you stop letting me fuck you because you just came, I'm never going to come. And if I'm never going to get off with you, I'm going to get off of you."
@ nocutename:

In reality, most of us were probably a lot closer to each other than some wanted to admit.

221 summarizes very well what my point was. Lolorhone is talking about felony domestic abuse like it was funny.
That's the beginning and the end of this.
sappho@231, feel free not to answer, but I'm curious what you threatened to do to those creeps.

@nocute, I wonder if part of the issue with this thread is that different people have had varying experiences with the police. If you think of the police as a positive force in society, then you feel less need to defend yourself. If you've encountered abuse or worse from the police, then you may feel you are the only person you can depend on to defend yourself.
I think FEM has been watching too much porn, and now has unrealistic expectations of men because of it. I mean, I'm not just a piece of wood, to be used and abused whenever and however it suits her, it's just so objectifying and demeaning.

For me, it's not so much how I feel about the police but more how I feel generally about how to treat others, and specifically about the relationship between men and women.

I have never been sexually abused or sexually assaulted (the skinhead who groped my breast to intimidate me plainly assaulted me, nothing sexual about it). In my late teens and early to mid-twenties, I let my male friends sleep in my bed, despite the fact that I knew that some of them were interested in more than cuddling. None of them ever overstepped my boundaries.

I was slapped once by a guy- after me slapping him for offending me. After he had slapped me back, I thought for a moment and had to concede his point: slapping him wasn't okay even though I was offended. We are still friends, 20 years later.

I feel secure with my friends and relatives. The thought that I felt so intimidated by my partner that I needed to pull out a knife to threaten him, is so dreadful that I cannot see the point remaining in that relationship.
I've reread Letter #1 and have a 4th theory that Dan didn't include, something really simple. Maybe the guys just need a little stimulation in order to stay hard. It's natural enough to get hard from being turned on alone. It's something else to stay hard for a longish time without some amount of rubbing or touching. I'd guess the guys are telling the truth when they insist that they're turned on.

I also note that while FEM describes it as a problem, she says it stops being a problem after a few times. So it's a problem with a solution she's already found. This might be something that goes under the heading of getting-to-know-you. She doesn't sound like she's complaining or complaining too hard, but if she were, a way to rephrase the complaint would be: "I don't get absolutely everything I want the first time I demand it." That's just not something to be taken terribly seriously.
For those commenting on FEM (LW1), note that she asks, "should I keep trying to make him hard?" So she is trying to do her part; she’s not just lying back and expecting the equipment to work right away.

I agree with Crinoline that FEM has already stumbled on the best solution, since the "problem" goes away on its own after the first few sexual encounters. In the meantime, the only advice I'd add to Dan's is to alert FEM not to go directly to the dick when you think it might be limp after he gave you his full attention.

Teasing comes first: kissing, licking the ears, fingers, letting him suckle your breasts...rub around on him like a happy kitten, and let your thigh figure out if he is starting to get hard. Once his erection gets underway, you can stroke it directly or give him oral and get him all the way hard. But heading straight for the dick can be too much pressure, especially on those first few dates. You've already come, so just fool around playfully and let him decide whether to push things towards intercourse or just make out for a while and then call it a fun night.
FEM sounds like kind of an asshole. I've never tried straight sex, but if someone told me that there was a set order in which the two parties should come, and that I was always expected to go second...I'd tell them to go fuck themselves.
@243: I saw that my perspective wasn't properly conveyed by my original post so I continued to add information and context and further explanation of my opinion in subsequent posts. Instead of simply engaging me in debate (or even just stating you had a problem with the tone of my original post), you insisted I was "a deeply shitty person" and continued to be inflammatory, vicious, and bullying. That's the beginning and the end of it for me.
I have something new to discuss, a reasonably appropriate topic to the end of the month. I am still sorting out my reactions to Arthur Ashe Kids' Day this past Sunday (in its traditional spot the day before the beginning of the US Open).

Before my main idea, a few side points. On the plus side, Mrs King (Billie Jean, not Dr King's widow) and Mrs Obama were in attendance. Mrs Obama seemed to be well received by the young American hopefuls introduced at the start of the programme (a big step up over how PGA golfers tend to whine about not wanting to meet members of a Democratic administration). The USTA program of age-appropriate courts and equipment seems to be helping to get new players in the under-10 bracket. And they had a wheelchair player in the skills challenge.

On the minus side - actual tennis, which was once well over 25% of the programme, is down to two segments, neither of which produces even exhibition-level shots, and about a tenth of the overall content. The wheelchair player (perhaps a replacement for the injured Ms Sharapova, and they never had this idea before Ms Vergeer retired on a decade-long winning streak?) was male, so that Ms Williams(S, not V) was the only female of five participants in the skills challenge and the only woman who hit a tennis ball during the entire programme.

Now for my month-appropriate points to consider.

In the opening speech (possibly longer than the tennis content but that's not the point), Mrs Obama included a tribute to Mrs King as an excellent role model to a nice little list of people in various groups. No prize for guessing which group was omitted. Given that the target audience of the day was a stadium full of ten-year-olds, this didn't feel like a cause to ding Mrs O. But it did make me wonder how one does mention appropriately the Alphabet Soup to ten-year-olds, at what age of target audience one would ding a speaker for the same omission, and whether this constitutes a point against the assimilationists who think we're a full part of the Big Happy Human Family.

I had a real difficulty, though, with the male co-host, apparently a person of colour. The female co-host, apparently white and some sort of Olympic medalist, acted like a twelve-year-old in a manner quite suitable to the occasion. But the male co-host kept making heterocentrist cracks until I finally had to resort to the Mute button. Being well into second-guessing mode, I started alternating between wondering whether there ought to be a partial POC Pass for heterocentrism and wondering whether such a pass would be racist.
Regarding the first letter:

Theory four: This bitch cums like a wildcat and scares the guys' dicks limp the first few times until they get used to it. It's difficult to maintain an erection when you're looking around for something to put between your lover's teeth to keep her from biting her tongue off!

(I don't mean to imply that cumming like a wildcat isn't a great and wonderful thing, just scary to an inexperienced twenty-something.)
@Mr. Ven,
I know nothing about tennis or its protocols. But why "Mrs." King and "Mrs." Obama, when all other women are "Ms.?"
nocutename @255: King and Obama are married, and therefore "Mrs." is the correct honorific. Sorry, I'm an English nerd.
@254, I meant
@EricaP: I don't understand the police angle at all in your musing. Lolorhone's friend didn't need to "defend" herself, as he told the story. She was angry at her bf and he was embarrassing her so she threatened him. She clearly couldn't have felt all that really frightened of him or she wouldn't have dated him before the incident in question or continued to date him afterward. (Even as he defended her, lolorhone didn't suggest she was a terrified, abused woman who didn't dare to leave her abuser. Instead he made it clear she's a badass who cultivates a dangerous persona so she is left alone.) As for the police? Are you suggesting she would have called them but didn't think they'd respond to her based on her previous experiences? Who would think to call the police and say, "My boyfriend keeps grabbing my ass; I want you to arrest him."?

Despite the spin put on the story later, in the form of some more clarifications, there is really no way one can represent her as a terrorized woman in need of protection who has learned she can't trust the police to do their job and has decided she must become a vigilante in order to survive unharmed.

Here's the original posting @2:
"They had a very fun, very sangria-intensive party about 3 months into their relationship and he grabbed her ass in front of several of her coworkers and several more of her friends (myself included). She smiled, took his hand, leaned in and said "If you ever do that again, you're going to get shanked." He laughed nervously. She pulled a switchblade from her pocket and ran her fingers over it without opening it. She then said "I'm not playing with you and I'm not fond of repeating myself.""

My good or not-good relationship with my local police force would have no impact on how I read that letter.

IT WAS AN ASS-GRAB. From a man she had been dating and having sex with for 3 months. Whom she continued to date. She was drinking, he was drinking. There's no way one can plausibly spin this into assault and self-protection without projecting all kinds of other stuff on to it. Including, perhaps, a history of assault and distrust of the police, but in order to do that you first have to stop reading the post as written and do something else.
Lolorhone: "Ms." as an honorific isn't just a different spelling of "Miss," which connotes a woman of unmarried status, and is differentiated from "Mrs." to signal a married woman. The whole point of the introduction of "Ms." was to create something more akin to "Mr." which doesn't indicate whether the man is married or not (because a man's marital status is not particularly relevant, whereas historically, a woman's marital status was THE single most important piece of information). "Ms." is supposed to refer to any woman and render both "Miss" and "Mrs." obsolete and irrelevant. Thus for Mr. Ven to use both "Ms." and "Mrs." in his post means either that he is using it as an alternate spelling of "Miss," which it isn't, or that he is unclear on the point of it. Mr. Ven is always so precise that I have a hard time believing either, but he is also so precise that I don't think this was either an accident or sloppiness on his part.
@258: My guess would be his assumption (and mine) that Mrs. denotes a married woman. Apparently, the specific denotation of the honorific Mrs. began in the 17th century, which makes it either outdated or the latest iteration of the term. So sayeth Merriam-Webster:

noun \ˈmi-səz, -səs, especially Southern ˈmi-zəz, -zəs, or in rapid speech in sense 1 (ˌ)miz, or before given names (ˌ)mis\
plural Mes·dames

Definition of MRS.


a —used as a conventional title of courtesy except when usage requires the substitution of a title of rank or an honorific or professional title before a married woman's surname

b —used before the name of a place (as a country or city) or of a profession or activity (as a sport) or before some epithet (as clever) to form a title applied to a married woman viewed or recognized as representative of the thing indicated


: wife

Lolorhone: Yes, but what do you do with the fact that Mr. Ven also used "Ms." and not "Miss" in that post. Why not use "Miss" to refer to Mesdames Sharapova and Vergeer?
@Erica P, I think you are on to something about how a person views self-defense informing how they view the situation with Lolorhone's friend. I don't think this is related to how they view the police. Most of the martial artists I know consider the police to be a positive force in society. They are law enforcement themselves, or they train law enforcement to do their jobs more safely and effectively. But the police are who you talk to after something happens...they don't get you out of a situation alive. If you are attacked, a guy is not going to stop beating on you or raping you, or whatever while you call 911 and wait for the police to get there. It is much better to be able to extricate yourself so that you CAN call the police. And the less force you have to use to do so, the better. So, a knockout is better than killing the person. A joint lock is better than a knockout. Showing a weapon, so that a situation never escalates into ACTUAL violence, is a good thing. The best thing is to not get into a dangerous situation. Lolorhone's friend does this by cultivating a persona of being a badass, that prevents her from actually having to hurt anyone.
@Ms. Cute, I wouldn't call this assault and self-defense in the sense of her bf being a credible threat to her safety. Part of self-defense is setting a boundary, and enforcing it. She did that, which is not the same as everyone who says she attacked him with a knife, or the person who showed less than common sense and called it attempted murder. I do, however, agree with everyone who is saying that if you have to enforce your boundaries with weapons, as a general rule your next step should be to leave because that is not a healthy relationship. It comes back to my previous point to Ms. Erica, that if possible, it is better to avoid situations where you might need to use force.
@258: I honestly didn't want to post any further about this, but to add yet more context to my original post here:

1) It was a loud and forceful ass grab- an ass slap that moved into a ass grab, really- and it stopped some very loud drunken party conversation cold.

2) My friend dropped her drink and broke her glass because of it.

3) If I had to guess, I'd say she felt violated and embarrassed, not frightened.
And tell me again why anyone bothers being sexual?
257-- On the other hand, in the original rendition of the story, he is slightly and rightly afraid of her. What is he afraid of? If the whole bit about the knife was just in fun, then it wasn't a real threat and he has no reason to be afraid. If it was a real threat, then the comments about abuse and domestic violence make sense. If it's in self defense, then it follows that the ass grabs were assaults. But if that's the case, the loving respectful relationship that follows doesn't make sense.

In other words, there are logical disconnects all over the story. It really doesn't make sense.
And I don't want to get back into this. But you posted your story in response to the letter in the column from a woman who doesn't in any way suggest that there is something violent or scary or forceful in her husband's boob-grabs. She is irritated and puzzled. Your story was the second post in the comment thread, and you presented it as a "here's the fun way my kick-ass friend dealt with a similar problem." You told the story in a funny way and you told it as a counterpart to an annoyed woman who is frustrated because her husband has gotten "offended" when she tries to tell him she doesn't appreciate the boob grabs. So did you think that the lw was being assaulted and that was the point of commonality? Did you think the story was funny and assume we would, too? Why did you initially misrepresent the nature of the incident?
@260: Perhaps he simply sees Ms. as an abbreviation of "Miss" and not the replacing honorific akin to "Mr."? I myself wasn't aware of the Ms./Miss differentiation you explained. And Merriam-Webster apparently still has obsolete definition:

Definition of MS.

—used instead of Miss or Mrs. (as when the marital status of a woman is unknown or irrelevant)

See Ms. defined for English-language learners »

Origin of MS.

probably blend of Miss and Mrs.
First Known Use: 1901
nocute @257, she carried a knife to protect herself after almost being raped on the street. Maybe she lives in a part of the US where no one finds the police very helpful. Do you agree that there are pockets of the US where many people don’t trust the police? Do you agree that in some of those pockets (and outside as well), domestic abuse is pretty common?

Assuming she knows many guys like this guy (ass-grabby, and unwilling to respect her repeated requests to leave her body alone), she may not have felt she could just leave this guy and move on to date a nice feminist in a nice neighborhood with nice schools. (And that's my response for tachycardia @261, who says she should leave him.)

He was harassing her. She said she would hurt him if he continued. Standard advice for victims of bullying in the past was to take on your bully physically. I don't look back nostalgically for that time, but I also don't say that those kids were evil felons if they sucker-punched someone who had been taunting and poking and pushing them for months. Different cultures have different standards (as Anarcissie pointed out @230)

In a world where the cops are expected to be good guys, with a monopoly on legitimate violence, I can see why people think she over-reacted. But imagining myself in a world where no one else was going to protect me from (common) acts of domestic abuse, I can see her actions as more justified.
@265: I don't think I misrepresented the incident. It was a violation of her body/space which she then turned on its head with the knife thing. Not only have I consistently said both parties were well outside of the realm of the appropriate, I referred to her response as "extreme" in the very first post. Her instant flipping of the script on him did struck me as something that would be useful to the LW (conceptually, not literally of course).
@Crinoline: Yes.

Also, I'm not discounting the fact that having your ass slapped and grabbed is a violation, but it's a pretty minor violation, really.
I'm 73 (my comment about the assumption that tickling is bad) -- I want to say, I don't think tickling should be "abolished" either -- I just think it's about consent. One should assume many touching-behaviors that have no consent are bad ones.

I know there are limits to this. A baby can't "consent" to snuggles, but that's necessary for the mental health of babies; I'm not some sort of extremist. But consent is nuanced -- and, while extremely important, not "extreme". It depends on the situation, the people, how old they are, what their needs are, what their mental capacities are. It's not "extreme" to view consent as nuanced and important. I don't think that's extreme.

I do tickle my daughter sometimes -- when she asks me to. Sometimes she asks me to. And sometimes she tickles me, and I've taught her that if I say no to tickling then she must stop. She must not tickle another if they don't want her to do it.

We're big on consent in this home. We're pretty snuggly, but if we're not already sitting there snuggling and kissing each other's heads, then I ask: "May I kiss your cheek?" She says yes or she says no, and I listen and follow her wishes. I know a lot of parents would find this absurd, but I am not up for using my kid as a comfort-object. Physical affection can be great for a person's soul, but she's not my teddy bear. Her rights are not less than mine, and I if my mom started kissing my cheeks and saying, "But you're my baby, just let me kiss you" then that would be insane of her and she'd be pushed off and I wouldn't want to see her for, I don't know... months. I remember getting kisses on the cheek that straight-up disgusted me when I was my daughter's age.

Consent is so much easier to do if one can practice it. It's not some sort of magical thing one can just teach with books or talks. One teaches it by living it.
@267: THANK YOU. FWIW, she reported her near-rape to the police the next day and they advised her to "Be careful" in that part of town. To answer the "why not leave?" question: She had known and liked him as a co-worker for a year before they began to date, and the drinking thing was a Jekyll/Hyde situation i.e. he was (and remains) a very different, very nice guy when sober. As I said before, he immediately curbed his drinking after the party incident and they've been inseparable ever since.
My experience with guys who go limp later on: Stopping themselves from coming too soon sometimes results in their not being able to get off at all. It's rare when a guy can turn it right back on. While you are getting off, he's turned on enough to stay hard. When you simmer down, that stimulus fades and so does he. Give him a few minutes or just wait until he is not as worried about getting you off, that is, when he gets used to you and relaxes.
I think I need to take a break from SLOG for a while. Cheerio, folks.
@264: If you understand that the first 3 months of their relationship were wholly different and separate from the last two years, there is no logical disconnect. His drinking was the catalyst for his disrespect; she was responding to that flipside of his personality which, now that he has curbed his drinking, does not assert itself. Thus the loving relationship that followed. He's afraid of relapsing for the loss of the relationship and the fact that he knows she absolutely will not tolerate any more his drunken bullshit.
And with that, I'm done talking about it. Thank you to those who engaged in civil debate.
FEM, I agree with all 3 of Dan's theories but in my experience #2 is most common and most likely, especially in the context of a new but potentially ongoing sexual relationship. A man does not necessarily maintain a continuous erection whenever he is within 10 feet of a naked woman or even when he's going down on her. Especially so then, because those who are really putting their minds to work are going to forget about (and have less blood flow to) their cocks. What I do after I've finished is take a few moments to breathe, relax, and then maybe share my experience with my partner, in a hot way if I want to continue having sex (maybe more technically if I'm seriously done). Hearing positive feedback and seeing you smile is a surefire way to get your guy going again.
@Lorlohone: The point of using Ms. is that a woman's marital status isn't supposed to be relevant to anything, at any time, unless she herself declares it is, in which case Miss or Mrs. should be used. Ms. was in use long before 1900. It was originally used back in the 1700s to shorten Mistress, which was proper for any woman at any age, regardless of her marital status or age. You stated that Billy Jean King is married, but that hasn't been true for a long time. She lists a woman as her life partner (not wife). In the 50s or 60s it would have been proper to still refer to her as Mrs. King, but that has been out-of-fashion since the mid-70s.

You also stated that you used Mr. for the President because he is married, but surely you recognize that Mr. is proper for any man, married or not (boys used to be called Master up to about age 12, but that's pretty obsolete).

Usage of honorifics isn't really an "English nerd" thing, it's more a "customs and manners nerd" thing, and has changed many times throughout history. At this point in time, in the absence of specific instructions to the contrary from the person herself, it is the custom to use Ms. Many women also use Ms. X in their professional lives, but Mrs. Y in their personal lives (see what I mean by it being about customs and manners, not English?) The exception is actresses, but then, actresses get exceptions to lots of things: they tend to still go by the quaint "Miss So-and-so", her maiden name, even if she's Mrs. John Doe in her personal life.

Interestingly, in France, after a certain age, a women is referred to as "Madame", out of respect to her dignity, even if she has never been married. We've been moving in this direction with Ms. here, according a woman the respect of not caring what her marital status is when writing of her or addressing her personally.

All this to say, you should use "Ms." when talking about a stranger or a public person, as your default. For what your friends prefer, ask them.
@Lorlohone: I just caught that it was Mrs. Obama, not Mr. Obama, you were referring to--sorry about that. In that case, I'd say you are correct to use Mrs., in that it seems to be what she, herself, prefers.
@278, 279: My family's from Louisiana, so Southern Hospitality- including the proper deployment of Ms. and Mrs.- has been thoroughly drummed into me. The English nerd comment was more referencing the dictionary definitions of particular honorifics.

By the way, it's lolorhone.
Wow, epic debate this week !

I'm not going to restart it, but the proponents of "females who want respect from males who just have abused them should be able to find a way to get it without ever crossing any sort of legal line" do not live in the reality of human interactions.

We're not logical thinking machines always in line with the law. With stress, shit happens. The laws are there to prevent the more serious kind of shit from ever crossing our minds (like rape), and thus from happening, they're not to erase all and every human mistakes and misbehaviors.

I love the nut grabbing, I'll use it when in need. Some males have had that stupid tendency to grab my ass in front of their friends, and I've taken the stern talking to road, but grabbing their nuts instead could be a lot funnier for everyone involved, bar the culprit.

@278 Quite right about the use of "madame" in French - I only allow very senior males to ever call me "mademoiselle", because it's obvious it's only flirtatious in name. I hate it when males closer to my age patronize me by calling me "mademoiselle". My years and experience deserve all the respect of a full-blown "madame".
Someone please explain to me why it's always a PYT for men, gay or straight? It's depressing as hell.
If she finds the random boob grab merely annoying, as opposed to finding it to be sexual assault, I suggest that she gets herself a squirt gun and spends the next few days subjecting him to drive-by squirtings.

If she manages to have it on hand when a boob grab occurs, retaliate immediately. (Hey, it works on cats.) But even if not, he needs a direct lesson in what it means to be the target of an annoying behavior, and as long as he persists in his, she will persist in hers.

I don't suggest the ball grab, at least not around the house. He will probably like it, thereby totally missing the point. Save that one for out in public. The point there is to embarrass him in front of his friends in exactly the way he embarrassed you.

If, on the other hand, she feels assaulted, she should break up with him. You don't stay in a relationship with someone who has to be taught not to assault you.

Wow, this comment thread. Fist bump. Thanks for being the voice of reason and sense.

I think everyone else missed the info you stated about your friend having narrowly avoided being attacked herself one night, before this incident at the party.

The statistics show this out; chances are, the majority of the women you know and/or are dating have experienced some degree or form of sexual harassment or even sexual assault.

She has a right to defend her bodily autonomy.

Men should assume the women they are with have been infringed upon before and to proceed with respect, deferring to their partner's enthusiastic, unmistakable consent.

In the event of lolorhone's friend pulling a knife to emphasize just how seriously her boundary transgressing boyfriend was NOT taking her repeatedly, clearly-stated dissent to his groping, especially because she had been scared into hyper-vigilance from her previous encounter; though, that shouldn't matter, but it goes to context; she defended herself with what I see as a level-playing field tactic.

That this thread shows just how seriously gendered violence isn't taken doesn't surprise me in the least.

Fist bump, lolorhone. Your friend is badass; I would that more women and girls didn't have to break through our socially instilled fear of offending others who transgress our boundaries. Maybe then guys wouldn't have to assume some other guy has already harassed the women they interact with.
Knife threatening was not cool. It was a criminal assault. The fact that it may - may - have worked out for that couple under whatever unique circumstances are present in that case does not excuse it. Not even in that case.

I know a person who later became best friends with their rapist. That doesn't make rape in general or that rape in particular okay.

As for dirt, declining to date someone hiv+ does not make one a jerk. Everyone gets to pick for themselves what risks they are comfortable with.

Dirt does irritate me, though, given my distaste for people who wouldn't date themselves, because they are too old, not attractive enough or whatever. This desire for a pyt is generally not a fetish, this is a refusal to accept one's place in the dating world sometimes coupled with a wrongful sense of entitlement.

Thank you, femwanderluster.
Re FEM, a different idea. Slow it down. You may find that the more you start doing Bolero instead of Flight of the Bumblebee, he will get harder and harder. He will be just as insistent, but it will be in a more mindful, intent mode.

He will also be busily manufacturing and storing more and more of the delightful fluids needed, starting with Cowper's and why the hell did I never even know this existed until I was in my mid-forties and in an affair with the very goddess of fuck who actually pulled me out at one point to slow down so I could build up the right sort of tension over two CDs instead of one jingle.

That way, by the time it's time, it's time. Go ahead and have as many orgasms as you like on the way but hang in there and he will eventually give you one he never know he had in him until you gave him the time and patience.
Men should assume the women they are with have been infringed upon before and to proceed with respect, deferring to their partner's enthusiastic, unmistakable consent.

Exactly why I'm not down with feminism. This idea that all men should always look at women as rape victims, and all sex should be framed in the context of rape.

Fun fact, what a woman considers respectful might vary. Some women might prefer that you assume she's capable of handling herself and don't require you to wait for a very narrowly defined concept of consent. Some women don't consider being infantalized "respectful". Some of those women have even been "infringed" upon themselves, or instead of sugar coating it - some of us have been raped. And yet we'd still rather not be treated in the way you prescribe that men should treat us.

So how about also abstaining from speaking on behalf of an entire gender? How about abstaining from telling an entire gender how they "should" act?

"Fun fact, what a woman considers respectful might vary"

"Men should assume the women they are with have been infringed upon before and to proceed with respect, deferring to their partner's enthusiastic, unmistakable consent." (285)

Acknowledging that what a woman may consider respectful might vary and deferring to a woman's unmistakable consent are THE SAME DAMN THING. The assumption of past trauma is good way to avoid creating present trauma. It does not mean treat every woman like a victim; it means be extremely mindful of every woman's boundaries. You're both saying the same damn thing. Feminism is only a problem for you in name, not content.
"what a woman considers respectful might vary. Some women might prefer that you assume she's capable of handling herself and don't require you to wait for a very narrowly defined concept of consent. Some women don't consider being infantalized "respectful". "

Couldn't agree more!

I just disagree that the problem is feminism. Feminism aims for women to be treated as adults like men, not children.

@lolorhone and Fernwanderluster:
"Men should assume the women they are with have been infringed upon before and to proceed with respect,..."

No, men should not by default assume that women are broken victims, just as women shouldn't assume by default that men are rapists.

Yes, men should treat women with respect- as should women treat men. Everyone should be treated with respect. That has nothing to do with victim-status, age or gender.
Ahh. Here I am! DIRT... hang in there. You are probably a lovely person, and someone, somehow, will open their eyes and heart and find you. Good luck!
@291: I specifically said that I do not think women should be treated like victims; I said that men should be extremely mindful of every woman's boundaries, as they will differ. The concept isn't kid gloves, it's the utmost consideration and respect for the individual woman. Of course, the same is true for men but that's not the discussion we're having.
"I know a person who later became best friends with their rapist. That doesn't make rape in general or that rape in particular okay."

@286 Luke and Laura from General Hospital do not count as people you know.
Regarding boundaries/respecting women; UGHHH. I'm so sick of this fighting, but here I go. Sometimes great sex happens when those boundaries that you cling to so hard get put aside in the heat of the moment. I'm not saying that this is true in EVERY sexual encounter, but I'm sure more women than myself have been taken further than we intentional planned to go somewhere along the line. Like I said, this isn't some recipe for success. There's plenty of letters archived on here that demonstrate the danger/harm of opening Pandora's box. And even more material available about "grey sex", date rape & everything else in between, Plus, it's better to be realistic about your versus your partner's personality. But all warning label material aside I have to say, I'm glad my partners persisted and helped me question some of my sillier boundaries. And no, I'm not suggesting that eventually all boundaries just disappear. Everyone has their absolute taboos. There's just no point in treating an annoyance like a travesty.

"Acknowledging that what a woman may consider respectful might vary and deferring to a woman's unmistakable consent are THE SAME DAMN THING. "

No. They aren't. That was my point.
I think that if I were GTFO, I'd be disappointed right now. First there's the great feeling of finding that one's letter has been printed and answered by Dan. Then there's the let-down of discovering that the commenters are all talking about someone in a situation that doesn't bear much resemblance to her own-- and yet they seem to think they're answering her. It's not like she has a right to expect that everyone should pay attention to her and the question she asked, but I'd understand if she were frustrated. It's like the difference between simply not being invited to a party-- that's okay-- and being invited and then everyone ignoring and being rude to you once you're there.
I was a bit harsh with dirt. Sorry, man. Here's my take, for what it's worth: some young guys who are attracted to older guys may just like the look of a mature man; and find that look what they are naturally attracted to. If you happen across one of these rare guys, yay for you. :)

But in my experience, another reason for such an attraction is due to the younger guy wanting something else that the older man can provide: stability, security, social status, the lifestyle that a greater income can provide.

If you cannot provide any of these, then what you have to offer is your experience and self-confidence, as a lover and as a person. Unfortunately, your letter suggests that you are lacking these. Maybe you should try a touch of counseling to see if you can get some help building some self-esteem. And maybe you should start by casually dating some guys who aren't your ideal archetype. Once you get back in the game and learn that people can like you for you and want to be with you, then be more ambitious, if you still feel that what you want is a pyt. But you might find that the reality of finding someone flawed but compatible is better than the daydream of your Antinous.
@295, it's reasonable to treat a boundary violation as a minor annoyance if that's how it felt to you. And it's reasonable to let body language indicate that you've changed your mind, rather than having to say that out loud. But your post comes close to telling guys that violating boundaries can be a great idea. Can't they "help you question" your boundaries by teasing along the edges and waiting for approval indicated in body language & moans?

@297, it's rather like being the bride at a wedding, only to find everyone is focusing instead on your drunken, aggressive sister-in-law. Still, since most LWs who make it to the comment-section have to read tons of invective directed at them, it's also possible to think of this LW as getting off easy.
@296: What am I missing then? Acknowledging that women have differing opinions of what constitutes respectful and so, taking each woman on an individual basis, the man is mindful of getting her specific, individual consent before he proceeds. This does not necessarily mean some mechanical question full of base-covering legalese nor does it necessarily mean an assumption of consent based upon body language. It means taking each woman on an individual basis. What am I missing?
Wow, you guys.
@301: No shit.
@299 I'm not saying it's a great idea for fuck's sake. In fact I even insisted it was a risky one, especially if you aren't familiar with your partner. For an example of what I mean read the very first damn comment on this thread. And yes, they could tell from my responses I had changed my mind- when they BEGAN doing said thing. I'm not suggesting that every male rush into a sex act in some kind of weird race to avoid rejection/over ride consent. I'm saying we all start with a pretty heavy set of boundaries that change with experience, age, and partners. The first guy who touched my breasts didn't stop making out with me and ask "Hey, can I touch your breasts?", he casually introduced it and I ALLOWED it to continue. (I had given him my sex history -nadda- before we had a sexual relationship)

Another example would be my friend. In high school she had lead on another mutual friend for over a year before telling him that God had other plans for her and dropping him. About six months or more go by and he approaches her again admitting he still has feelings before leaning in and kissing her, briefly placing his tongue in her mouth. She flipped out. She ran around school looking for me, told me what happened, and I carried her sobbing across a school campus to our other friends so I could talk to the kisser. I had known and fooled around with him for awhile so I knew in his mind that that kiss was meant to be something like out of a movie meant to convey all his undying passion & etc. Not assault. And yes, my female friend actually wanted to press sexual assault charges, but thankfully one of our other friends talked her out of it as soon as I handed her over to the pack.
@301 Dan Savage & @302 lolorhone: I second that, upon reading everyone's comments and suddenly not knowing exactly what to say.
Wow is right.
@304: But I will add just one last comment: We're ALL deserving of mutually exchanged respect.
@303, so your point is that boys/men should go slow and girls/women should accept some minor boundary crossing as the two people figure out what they do or don't want to do together? That seems reasonable to me, given our culture.
@306 (apologies for the heterosexism; I tried to rewrite it as "the initiators should go slow" but I couldn't figure out a non-controversial word to represent the, um, target.)
@306 Basically, yeah. Just to be clear if someone crosses a boundary and you don't feel cool with it, just speak up in a collected, respectful, but firm manner.
Respect goes both ways.

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