Sexual entitlement.

“No matter how much it sucks that a certain person has trouble finding people to have sex with — and yes, it obviously sucks, whether it’s happening to men or older women or fat people or whatever — this problem should never be discursively turned into “this person is entitled to sex”. Because no one is actually entitled to sex, and if we start acting like a given class of person is entitled to sex, then that becomes extremely dangerous extremely fast. This theme comes up really often in [emporiasexus].
… No one has a right to a sexual partner.  … [I]t’s really important that we don’t ever make claims about how a given person “should” have a partner or other people are hurting that person by not partnering them, because these are tacit efforts to guilt people into having relationships they don’t want.”

– Clarisse Thorn, commenting on sexual “entitlement,” in regard to this blog.  Full comment on her blog here.  (Dec. 13, 2010 at 8:04 p.m.  Scroll down.)

“Entitlement” is not my favorite word, as it’s both vague and carries a lot of negative baggage.  Yet the first question I would ask about entitlement is this:  Is a person “entitled” to have friends?  Because if the answer is no, if having friends is a “privilege,” then you are saying that a person should never feel entitled to a basic human need, which is that of friendship.

Another question:  Is a person “entitled” to platonic human touch?  Because again, if the answer is no, and if being touched is a “privilege,” then someone should never feel entitled to the basic need for physical touch.

And these are human needs.  Put an ordinary, sane person in solitary confinement, and that person will rapidly decompensate and become severely disturbed.  And yet nobody would argue I have a right to coerce another person into being my friend, or to pressure another person to touch me, even platonically.  Yet at the same time, to say that friendship and human touch are “privileges” – and they are either privileges or entitlements, there is no third choice – is to say it is wrong to feel entitled to a basic human need.  The fact is, to survive psychologically as social beings, we are all desperately dependent on – and entitled to – that which other people cannot be ethically compelled to give us.

With that in mind, I re-wrote Clarisse Thorn’s comment, substituting sexual partners with “friends”:

No matter how much it sucks that a certain person has trouble finding friends… this problem should never be discursively turned into “this person is entitled to have friends.”  Because no one is actually entitled to have friends. … No one has a right to have friends.  … [I]t’s really important that we don’t ever make claims about how a given person “should” be someone’s friend or other people are hurting that person by not befriending them, because these are tacit efforts to guilt people into having friendships they don’t want.

As a hypothetical, let’s assume that nobody where I live and work is willing to be my friend, and so I have no friends.  Am I still “entitled” to have friends?  Yes, I believe so.  Does it follow that I have the “right” to bother any particular individual in my neighborhood, until such time as that person “gives in” and is willing to be my friend?  No, I don’t.

And the same goes for sexual “entitlement.”  I believe a man can have a healthy sense of sexual entitlement – can believe he has a right to have a sexual partner – and can also believe that a woman has an absolute, non-negotiable right to say “no” to a sexual relationship.  In other words, it’s possible to walk and chew gum at the same time.

Clarisse Thorn on sexual danger:  “If we start acting like a given class of person is entitled to sex, then that becomes extremely dangerous extremely fast.”  Two thoughts:

First, when a sexual situation becomes “extremely dangerous extremely fast,” it isn’t because a well meaning young man mistakes his entitlement to sexual pleasure for license to ignore a woman’s “no.”  Rather, it’s because a psychopathic predator has calculated that a young woman’s fear or incapacity will allow him to sexually assault her.  To the predator, whether he’s ethically “entitled” to anything is irrelevant.

Second, as to the fear that sexual “entitlement” could be misconstrued by a young woman so that she felt obligated to have sex, this can be countered with basic sexual ethics.  And although I’m not a fan of black-and-white rules in the area of sexual relations, there are two that are irrefutable:

(1)  A person always has the right to refuse sexual activity or a sexual relationship.

(2)  It is always wrong to use force or the threat of force in sexual relations.

Sexual ethics 101.  Not terribly difficult.

If the theme of sexual entitlement comes up often in this blog, it’s because I believe that there are too many young men who lack a healthy sense of sexual entitlement.  As I mentioned, I’m not terribly fond of using the word “entitlement” to describe the feeling men should have toward their own sexual pleasure, yet I am even less fond of the way “entitlement” is bandied about to put down men who express their sexual needs.

Related to the idea of “entitlement,” there’s another source of misunderstanding I should mention:  The idea that forming sexual relationships is “easy” for most men, and that a man’s anxiety and missteps in the gladiatorial sexual arena young adulthood is a mystery that can only be explained by sexism and male privilege.

Kate Harding:

“I promise you, guys, you will not miss out on meeting “the one” by erring on the side of caution here. You will still talk to loads and loads of women in your lives, some of whom will be both attractive and attracted to you, and will make their interest clear. You lose nothing by not talking to a woman when you can’t quite tell if she wants to talk — and you gain the satisfaction of helping to create a culture in which women are treated with respect and can feel safe in public. Why do you keep insisting you’re owed more than that?”
(Comment left by Kate Harding, on October 12, 2009 at 9:07 p.m., in response to other comments about the post Schrödinger’s Rapist on her blog “Shapely Prose.”)

She didn’t use the word “entitlement,” but she might as well have.  Here’s what she’s saying:  To find sexual partners, all a young man has to do is decide, from among the “loads and loads” of women he is effortlessly going to meet, which women “obviously” share a mutual sexual interest.  Easy as pie!  And why does she believe this is so easy?  Because men like Hugo Schwyzer tell her it is:

I served as a faculty advisor for a week-long student government lobbying trip to Washington D.C in the spring of 1997. Seven female students went on the trip — and I had sex with four of them.

Is that a cheap shot?  Okay, here’s the problem:  I can’t very well make my point about our sexual culture with only vague references to “some men.”  And if Clarisse Thorn is “bugged” by themes of entitlement that she sees in my writing, then I need to be able to explain, in the most concrete, salient way I can, the world in which the sexually isolated man lives, and how a healthy sense of “entitlement” is desperately needed by some men.

Because the reality of heterosexual sexuality is this:  None of the four students who had sex with Hugo Schwyzer – a professor who now lectures young men how to cross their t’s and dot their i’s in all matters sexual – none of these young women would be likely take a vulnerable nineteen year old virgin home and gently make love to him.  And I don’t doubt that these women were good people, and probably kind.  Yet the world in which a man finds himself is not all candy and cupcakes – young women’s preference for the aggressive, dominant man is unmistakable, obvious, and brutal.

*                                 *                                 *

… A limo pulls up alongside us on Park Avenue. Boys are in the limo. Not boys we’re friends with, the kind of boys we could date.

Popular Girls, a short story by Karen Shepard, The Atlantic Monthly, Oct. 2001

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47 Responses to Sexual entitlement.

  1. Sam says:

    Hey Miguel,

    “Am I still “entitled” to have friends? Yes, I believe so. Does it follow that I have the “right” to bother any particular individual in my neighborhood, until such time as that person “gives in” and is willing to be my friend? No, I don’t.”

    I think you may be looking for this distinction: to be/feel *worthy* of a relationship/sex/friendship (and have that part of your personality respected as a part of your person by being respected as a sexual persona) instead of being/being seen/considered entitled to a relationship/sex/friendship. I am entitled to ask of you what you are entitled to ask of me. We are mutually entitled to be respected as full human beings, and that does involve a recognition of our sexual persona. If that is a given, I think people will be able to feel worthy of attention instead of being entitled to it. This, I think, is a very useful distinction (incidentally made by a commenter on Hugo’s blog) that I believe also implicitly contains a lot about what differentiates confidence from neediness.

  2. Lynet says:

    ‘Worthiness’ was the first thing I thought of, too. Yes, it is healthy to believe that you are worthy of a sexual relationship, and yes, it is possible to believe that you are worthy of sex, or friendship, or a loving relationship, without believing that people (either singly, or as a group) are obligated to give you any of those things.

    I’m not convinced, however, that only a ‘psychopathic predator’ would ever pressure a woman into having sex, and as a result I disagree with your assessment that a sense of entitlement cannot be dangerous. Regrettably, a man who truly believed that he deserved sex, and that women were being brutal by not giving it to him, and that women would only give it to him if he was aggressive, might continue to aggressively pursue a woman for sex after she said ‘no’. I wouldn’t want to be that woman.

  3. Hugh Ristik says:

    Miguel,

    I agree with Sam that we are merely dealing with a terminology issue. “Entitlement” can refer to either a feeling of obligation from others, or to a feeling of worthiness in oneself.

    Feminists typically use the first sense of the word, which is what Clarisse is objecting you. Under that meaning, Clarisse’s paragraph still makes sense when you substitute “friendship” for “sex,” and comes out to mean that people are obligated to have others be friends with them.

    I think you are using “entitlement” to mean something different:

    If the theme of sexual entitlement comes up often in this blog, it’s because I believe that there are too many young men who lack a healthy sense of sexual entitlement. As I mentioned, I’m not terribly fond of using the word “entitlement” to describe the feeling men should have toward their own sexual pleasure, yet I am even less fond of the way “entitlement” is bandied about to put down men who express their sexual needs.

    To me, the obvious solution is to use “worthiness” instead of the positive meaning of entitlement. It sounds much better to say “there are too many young men who lack a healthy sense of sexual worthiness,” because you don’t risk people hearing the negative meaning of “entitlement,” and you don’t give feminists unnecessary fits. We really don’t need to try and use “entitlement” in a positive way: it just creates confusion, and there are plenty of other words we can use.

    Yes, feminists frequently sling the word “entitlement” at men on the flimsiest excuses. That doesn’t mean that we should try to rescue the positive meaning of the word “entitlement,” though. Instead, we should point out that a lot of the phenomena that feminists label as entitlement actually don’t necessarily entail a feeling of entitlement (e.g. frustration, loneliness, anger, resentment). We should grant feminists the use of the word “entitlement” for a negative attitude of obligation toward others, but we shouldn’t let them stretch the word any farther and conflate it with other things.

  4. Hugh Ristik says:

    The idea that forming sexual relationships is “easy” for most men, and that a man’s anxiety and missteps in the gladiatorial sexual arena young adulthood is a mystery that can only be explained by sexism and male privilege

    Of course, this is backwards. Forming sexual relationships is probably hard for most young men, and a man’s lack of anxiety can often be explained by him holding attitudes that feminists would call “sexism and male privilege.”

    Kate Harding’s quote is indeed pretty priceless.

    I promise you, guys, you will not miss out on meeting “the one” by erring on the side of caution here.

    Being able to find “the one” (i.e. a sufficiently good match) requires going out with a certain amount of people. The more people you date, the higher your chances of finding a sufficiently good match (at least, up to a point). The less potential dates you meet, the less chance you have of finding “the one.”

    Of course, Kate Harding might believe that public approaches are a bad source of dates that could lead to a relationship… but she is wrong. Public approaches do have the potential to turn into dates and relationships when they are done well.

    You will still talk to loads and loads of women in your lives, some of whom will be both attractive and attracted to you,

    If you have decent social skills or extraversion, you will talk to loads and loads of women, but few will be attracted to you unless you have some combination of stereotypical masculinity, social status, or artistic/musical/political achievement. For such men, Harding’s statement is true, but that’s probably not the majority of men.

    and will make their interest clear.

    What planet is Harding on where women who are attracted to men make their interest “clear?” To understand signals from women, men need a combination of advanced socials skills and experience with women to decode their signals, and/or they need to be above average in attractiveness such that women are giving stronger signals that are easier to decode.

    You lose nothing by not talking to a woman when you can’t quite tell if she wants to talk

    For men who aren’t massively popular, highly socially skilled, famous, millionaires, or who don’t look like rockstars, they will virtually never be able to quite tell if a woman wants them to approach, or to continue a conversation. If she rejects the guy strongly, it’s going to be obvious. But even if she is interested, it’s going to take her time to figure out whether she is attracted to the guy, unless he is in an attractive bracket like the above and gets an instant positive reaction. While she is sizing him up, the guy won’t be able to tell for sure that she wants him to approach, or to continue talking to her.

    Harding just prohibited most men from approaching women, and tried to convince them that they aren’t losing anything.

    and you gain the satisfaction of helping to create a culture in which women are treated with respect and can feel safe in public

    No, we don’t! We help create a culture where only assholish/unscrupulous guys approach women in public, because empathetic and scrupulous men have been told not to by people like Harding. In many cases, these guys freak women out, causing women to have a distrust of men who approach them in public. In other cases, women respond well to those advances, and have dates or even relationships with men who approach them, giving these guys a dating advantage over more sensitive and scrupulous men.

    The result is that public venues get destroyed as a place where men and women can meet (except for men who are persistent douchebags!) because women build negative associations with public approaches, and men who could be approaching in a way that women might actually be comfortable with are sitting on the sidelines. Everyone loses except for douchebag guys, who don’t care if they have to make 5 women uncomfortable to get one date.

    If every woman could walk around in public getting approached by attractive, socially skilled guys who were their type, and who had the interpersonal skills to know when to go away if she wasn’t interested, then wouldn’t that be a good thing for women? Every time a woman wanted a new boyfriend, she could just walk around in the mall waiting for eligible bachelors to approach her. I think this world would be a better place, but that’s not the world Harding is trying to create, it’s the world pickup artists are trying to create.

    You say:

    She didn’t use the word “entitlement,” but she might as well have. Here’s what she’s saying: To find sexual partners, all a young man has to do is decide, from among the “loads and loads” of women he is effortlessly going to meet, which women “obviously” share a mutual sexual interest. Easy as pie!

    While I don’t think that men are entitled to mates (including from women “in general”), people are entitled to make mating attempts, at least, as long as these mating attempts are sincere and don’t cause a net harm. Nobody has an obligation to respond positively to a mating attempt, but we do have an obligation to refrain from restricting other people in their mating attempts or shaming them unless there is a good reason.

    There isn’t a good reason to restrict men from many sorts of public approaches (where a man goes away if the woman rejects him). I would argue that the benefits of having more venues where people can meet mates outweigh the costs. Furthermore, right now the costs to women of men approach them are amplified because (a) non-douchebag men are least likely to approach women, and (b) knowledge of how to approach women in ways that they are comfortable with isn’t evenly distributed. Even for men who are unlikely to be attractive to women now, it could be a good practice if they approached more and got better at appealing to women.

  5. Toysoldier says:

    I think you may be looking for this distinction: to be/feel *worthy* of a relationship/sex/friendship (and have that part of your personality respected as a part of your person by being respected as a sexual persona) instead of being/being seen/considered entitled to a relationship/sex/friendship

    Worthiness does not really address Miguel’s point. The issue is actually the desire, specifically whether men have the right to desire sex without having the right to have that desire fulfilled. I think the answer is yes, just as the answer is yes to someone desiring a friend without having the right to demanded a person’s friendship. The reason I make this distinction is because a person can feel worthy of something and not desire it or feel unworthy of something yet desire.

    I do agree, however, that entitlement is the wrong word for this. However, I also disagree with the feminist usage of the word, both in terms of how they changed the meaning of the word and their application of it.

  6. I’ll leave Sam and HR to discuss most of the finer points. I did want to say, though:

    Lynet wrote,

    I’m not convinced, however, that only a ‘psychopathic predator’ would ever pressure a woman into having sex, and as a result I disagree with your assessment that a sense of entitlement cannot be dangerous. Regrettably, a man who truly believed that he deserved sex, and that women were being brutal by not giving it to him, and that women would only give it to him if he was aggressive, might continue to aggressively pursue a woman for sex after she said ‘no’. I wouldn’t want to be that woman.

    Right. And the thing is, there are plenty of decent, kind, friendly, egalitarian guys who don’t even aggressively pursue after a “no” but who do express plenty of sexual entitlement in both large and small ways.

    To put it bluntly: Anyone who thinks they are “owed” anything from a consensual sexual encounter is acting with entitlement, and that is bad for sexual pleasure and open communication. Being a nice person who takes care of stray puppies and believes women should have equal opportunity in the workplace does not preclude acting from entitlement.

    Miguel wrote,

    I believe that there are too many young men who lack a healthy sense of sexual entitlement.

    This is the kind of sentence that I suspect is most likely to be written by someone who doesn’t actually have sex with men.

  7. Oh, also:

    none of these young women would be likely take a vulnerable nineteen year old virgin home and gently make love to him … the world in which a man finds himself is not all candy and cupcakes – young women’s preference for the aggressive, dominant man is unmistakable, obvious, and brutal.

    Quit disappearing me.

  8. Lynet says:

    Oh, Clarisse, yes! I was searching for a way to say that, and gave up.

    Stop disappearing me, too.

  9. Hugh Ristik says:

    Did Miguel intend his statement as a statement of average female preference, or as a universal generalization? My guess is the former. If so, then he may want to reflect that meaning more clearly in his language… but he isn’t disappearing either you or Lynette.

    I use language nowadays that is a lot more rigorous and hedging, but it actually makes my writing worse: wordier, and less crisp.

    English sucks for communicating about empirical claims, and I’m not sure other languages are any better.

  10. P John Irons says:

    It seems feminism itself is not held to nearly as high a standard regarding the use of generalisations in language, as Clarisse is holding Miguel to.

    Statements like men are more aggressive, men are physically stronger, and so forth seem to be quite acceptable.

    Even though those are just intended as generalisations about most men, and even though those also “disappear” the individual men who are less aggressive than the women in their lives, or weaker.

  11. Cessen says:

    To put it bluntly: Anyone who thinks they are “owed” anything from a consensual sexual encounter is acting with entitlement, and that is bad for sexual pleasure and open communication.

    Like being owed an effort from your partner to help you orgasm?

    That (admittedly really nasty) jab aside, I think there is a lot of truth to what you’re saying. But from my perspective, there are a lot of behaviors that are attributed to “male entitlement” that IMO can be better ascribed to normal human frustration. At least in as much as when I’ve engaged in such behaviors, it hasn’t been because I felt “entitled”. At least not in the strong sense. I might have thought someone was being an asshole or unfair or was demonstrating a blatant lack of empathy for me and my feelings (see: my comment on the manliness thread about rights and assholes), but I did not believe I had a right to any sexual acts from them.

    My concern with throwing “entitlement” around as a primary explanation is that I think there is a lot of subtly to these issues that it erases. To go back to my jab: if your partner refuses to get you off, that is fully within their rights. Even if they refuse it for flippant or irrational reasons. And it is wrong for you to force or coerce them into it. It is unwanted sexual contact. If you don’t like this, you can leave and find someone else. This is how a lot of feminist analysis of male sexual entitlement looks from my perspective, and this is why it is so frustrating/triggering to me. I can’t refute that stance from a human rights position, but there is still so much bullshit implied in what I wrote above. I think there is a lot more to human relationships that is important to look at. Like people being assholes, or people being “unreasonable” (both of these are subjective, of course…). Your ex’s that were so flippant and then angry about you wanting them to help get you off? Assholes. You are right to be angry at them. But a pure “you don’t have a right to sexual acts from another person” stance erases that, no?

  12. Cessen says:

    Whoops… replied to the wrong comment. Heh.

  13. elementary_watson says:

    “This is the kind of sentence that I suspect is most likely to be written by someone who doesn’t actually have sex with men.”

    So you never had a male lover who got you exasperated by trying too hard to accommodate to your desires while hardly daring to acknowledge his own?

    My ex-girlfriend had, me, and I understand her point – a man who doesn’t own up to what he wants in bed in a way isn’t really there, personality-wise, and that’s a bad thing.

  14. elementary_watson says:

    Well, P John, at least now we have a handy phrase when a feminist generalizes about men: Stop disappearing me!

  15. P John Irons says:

    Well, P John, at least now we have a handy phrase when a feminist generalizes about men: Stop disappearing me!

    There may be superficial pleasure in such a “tit for tat” approach of giving feminists a taste of their own medicine whenever their cognitive categories promote a one-sided analysis of gender issues. But neither the “tit” nor the “tat” brings us closer to anything more meaningful or valuable than the original narrow gender roles we started out with.

    And that’s my real gripe: not just that some feminist concepts are unfair to men, but more so that they “poison the well” against any real fair and humanistic thinking about gender.

    The challenge is how to find something constructive to do about it, despite one’s own personal sense of having been given short shrift.

  16. Pingback: Dirty desire « Toy Soldiers

  17. Cessen says:

    Your ex’s that were so flippant and then angry about you wanting them to help get you off? Assholes. You are right to be angry at them. But a pure “you don’t have a right to sexual acts from another person” stance erases that, no?

    In fact, not only does it erase it, but it implicitly makes you out to be the bad guy in the situation.

  18. Jim says:

    “none of these young women would be likely take a vulnerable nineteen year old virgin home and gently make love to him … the world in which a man finds himself is not all candy and cupcakes – young women’s preference for the aggressive, dominant man is unmistakable, obvious, and brutal.

    Quit disappearing me.”

    If the shoe fits, wear it, Clarisse, but if it doesn’t, then it’s not about you. Miguel was explicitly specific about who he was referring to, Hugo’s brown-nosing groupies, and you weren’t one of them.

    “I do agree, however, that entitlement is the wrong word for this.”

    TS, entitlement is the wrong word. It covers too much ground. Entitlement refers to rights – expecting a consensual lover to respect your right to withdraw consent is an entitlement; how is that a bad thing?

  19. Darque says:

    “I believe that there are too many young men who lack a healthy sense of sexual entitlement.” – Miguel

    “This is the kind of sentence that I suspect is most likely to be written by someone who doesn’t actually have sex with men.” – Clarissa

    I think this entire thread is really a matter of perspective. I probably just identify with Miguel’s more because it is one that I personally empathize with.

    But really, I’m just tired of the assumption that anyone in this argument is “disappearing” another person. Clarissa didn’t mention my individual circumstances in her discussions about men, was she disappearing me?

    By the way, on entitlement:

    As a thought experiment I decided to play around with the word entitlement. Asking questions in a broad continuum from, “Am I entitled to live?” to “Am I entitled to own a mansion with a swimming pool and a fleet of yachts?”- from an obvious yes to an obvious no if you will. So really, there are some things that people in an effort to defer to simple human decency would imply that I am entitled to.

    I struggle with this though, because I know that there is no universal law of the cosmos that makes me “entitled” to anything. I could fall down the stairs tomorrow and break my neck. Where did my magic entitlement go? It surely didn’t fucking help me when I fell down the stairs. Entitlement of the form of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” didn’t help anyone holding up a cardboard sign under a freeway overpass.

    So, no, I am not entitled to anything really. However, reality and an ideal world are two different things. In reality, like I’ve shown, there is no mystical force that enforces the justice of an ideal world. In the ideal world, I probably do deserve something. (In a really abstract sense, I would hope that everyone deserves a happy, long life. I would hope that everyone deserves a stable job. A loving family or friends. Food on the table. House over one’s head.)

    So, back to entitlement. In Clarissa’s context, “entitlement” is a really ugly word that represents the seedy underbelly of male sexual desire. In Miguel’s context, entitlement represents a man’s “right” to not have to swallow sadness and pain and isolation while he watches as the world around him enjoys happiness in their sex and love lives while he gets nothing.

    I can’t really say who is right in this sense. But I would like to add my own perspective as well as expound upon Miguel’s a bit. While in the realistic sense I believe a man is not entitled to anything, in the idealistic sense I do believe that a man should feel entitled to have his sexual needs met. Because, I think that everyone should feel entitled to be happy in an ideal world. I think it is, on the contrary, an unreasonable expectation to assume that one is so ugly or unredeemable that nobody would ever be interested in having sex with oneself. Moreover, while I’m sure that Clarissa’s perspective comes from a place where men have mistreated her and others, I think she is missing the point.

    I think Miguel is trying to say that instead of being shivering and miserable and feeling like the world doesn’t owe you anything – it is actually a good thing from a perspective of self esteem to feel like you just might actually deserve to have sex once in a while. Sure, someone who is a “player” could probably use a little, nay, a lot more humility. But what use is there in trying to teach humility to someone so humbled and broken already? Do we need to be telling the 20, 21, 26, 30 w/e year old male virgin that hey sex isn’t for everybody. You shouldn’t feel so entitled.

    Anyway, I’ll just conclude this lengthy post with a couple of things: First, to thank Miguel for starting up this blog and giving voice to all of these things that I think many guys have experienced. Second, to Clarissa for sharing her perspective. (Even though, I, as a person with completely different experiences, do not understand as well as Miguel’s.)

  20. Cessen says:

    If the shoe fits, wear it, Clarisse, but if it doesn’t, then it’s not about you. Miguel was explicitly specific about who he was referring to, Hugo’s brown-nosing groupies, and you weren’t one of them.

    Well, except for ending it with a non-qualified statement: “young women’s preference for the aggressive, dominant man is unmistakable, obvious, and brutal.”

    I’ve definitely known younger women who have a preference for more nerdy, less dominant men. They find aggressive, dominant men intimidating in a bad way. (Although, admittedly they seem to be a minority, and most still expect the guy to initiate.)

    (I also just hate the “if it’s not about you, it’s not about you” line. It’s abused so much. I despise its use in the Nice Guy(tm) discussions, for example. So forgive me if I don’t find its use here very warm-and-fuzzy.)

  21. Interesting Connections says:

    I can only imagine that you have written this to highlight the hypocrisy of feminists.

    However, in the real world the asymmetries are even more interesting.

    On the one hand something like 40-50% of men find it hard to get sex and have to pay for it if they get any because they simply do not have what women are by and large interested in. That is, women judge them, and who am I to argue that they should not judge.

    On the other hand the top 10-20% of men can get all the sex they want and women, especially those of lesser worth, fall all over themselves to offer sex because they know that most men are not that discriminating, and that at least some of those men will feel obligated if a woman they have sex with falls pregnant.

    Then there is the small percentage of men that women find desirable who are very discriminating. I have turned down women who were very clearly offering sex because they were not acceptable.

    On top of that, there is evidence that perhaps as many as 30% of women cannot achieve orgasm even when they masturbate (although this was determined using self-report surveys, which are notoriously unreliable). Must suck to be them because their offers of sex are pretty clearly mercenary.

    So, entitlement is not an issue as far as I am concerned. In the same way that I am not responsible for the behavior of those who happen to have a Y chromosome, just as I do, I do not feel that I have to somehow look after their interests.

  22. CaliOak says:

    Do not speak for young women. At least don’t speak for any young woman I’ve ever been or know, from my early teens to my late 20s. Generally speaking woman do not want to be dominated. We want respect. And I’m only talking about women (and girls) between 12 and 30. Being respectful and being strong, assertive, rough around the edges, ect are not mutually exclusive. Men can walk and chew gum at the same time as well as women.

    As for sexual entitlement, Thomas Jefferson said it best in the Declaration of Independence: we all have “a right to the pursuit of happiness.” What you are trying to say also sounds like the old Catholic tradition where every individual has a right to marry until proven otherwise, but of course no one is obligate to marry a anyone else.

  23. Jim says:

    It just came across as a sloppy misreading of Miguel’s point. One of the gendersphere’s besetting sins in the tendency to overpersonalize other people’s comments. It’s one thing when someone gets sloppy the way someone did at Feministe and uses an unrestricted plural “Why do men rape?” – that is going to provoke the same kind of justified rebuttal as “Why do women lie about rape?” – it’s something else to take issue with a comment that is clearly specifically about a previously defined group of people that excludes all the rest of us in the species.

  24. Jim says:

    “Do not speak for young women. At least don’t speak for any young woman I’ve ever been or know, from my early teens to my late 20s. Generally speaking woman do not want to be dominated. We want respect. ”

    This is femsplaining, and it’s bogus. Kindly:
    1) do not presume to tell other people, such as Miguel, what they have or have not experienced, and –
    2) try to avoid the mistake of failing to see yourself as others see you rather than as you think you appear to them. Protection and provision induce dependency – that is domination. As long as women expect this of men, and the majority do, at all levels – institutionally, legally and personally – then it is nothing but empty and self-flattering rhetoric to say that women want respect. You don’t get respect by living off of someone else. Saying one thing and doing the oppsite is not very convincing.

  25. Cessen says:

    My point was that while this indeed refers to a specific group of women (those that slept with Hugo):

    none of these young women would be likely take a vulnerable nineteen year old virgin home and gently make love to him

    This subsequently was a much broader claim, generalizing that specific group to young women in general:

    young women’s preference for the aggressive, dominant man is unmistakable, obvious, and brutal.

  26. CaliOak says:

    “Yet the world in which a man finds himself is not all candy and cupcakes – young women’s preference for the aggressive, dominant man is unmistakable, obvious, and brutal.”

    I get the difference between how someone appears to others and how a person appears to oneself. And I can see how this being a statement of personal experience is implied rather than stated, but the only conditions in that statement are being young and female.

    As for dependence meaning a person doesn’t want respect…Is this really true for either gender? I will admit I have relied on men. I am a daughter and I did depend on my father to raise me. I depend on my husband to pay the bills, for emotional support, for sexual satisfaction, for monogamy, for logistical support, for his insights and judgment, when we have children I will rely on him to be a good parent to them. He depends on me in the same ways. Is this so unusual? Does depending on lover to make financial, emotional, labor, (and parental if there are kids) contributions to a shared household mean anyone, man or woman, doesn’t want respect?

    In terms of traditional gender roles, expecting nurturing and provision (of edible food, free labor to manage most of a man’s personal affairs, assist a man at his business and raise his children) include dependency – that is domination. As long as men expect this of women, and the majority do…then it is nothing but… self-flattering rhetoric to say men want respect. But this is a cheap shot and not very realistic either way.

  27. Ari says:

    Nrgh. The blanket statements here… bother me greatly even though I think the main thrust of the argument can bee seen even without them. The “30% of women cannot achieve orgasm even when they masturbate” is an oversimplification of the research… I don’t think I’ve ever seen any that suggested that the prevalence of female orgasmic disorder (of the lifelong type that includes masturbation as you’re suggesting, IC) is really that high. This statement: “…Women who have experienced orgasm sometimes have difficulty doing so: About 25% of women reported having problems with orgasm within the last year” (Laumann et al., 1994.) is quite a bit different.

    The main reason I point this out is because… the conclusion that you present, that (some) women’s offers of sex must be mercenary, is a) flawed because it’s based on a flawed statistic and b) flawed because it assumes a lack of orgasm makes sexual intercourse pointless unless you have some “covert interest” of some kind.

  28. Ari says:

    To go back to the original post at hand, yes I agree with other commentors, Miguel what makes you certain that the young women that were willing to have sex with a professor might not also be willing to have sex with a 19 year old virgin?

    I could produce personal anecdotes and individual feelings, but of course an anecdote is not proof against an overarching theme (and quite frankly, I suffer no delusions of normalcy in comparison to the dominant culture.) So I still with the singular question, why do you assume thus?

  29. Blitzgal says:

    So, you chastise her for speaking for other people then go on to say what the majority of women expect “at all levels.”

    What frustrates me the most about these types of discussions is that they tend to make blanket statements about all women when in actuality they are only talking about a specific subsection of women — namely, the traditionally attractive women that they themselves desire.

    I’ve got news for you. Women who are not traditionally attractive go through the same sexual isolation that you do. We are invisible to men when we walk down the street. We are never asked out. We are not what you imagine in your mind’s eye when you rail against all the women who won’t have sex with you.

    What would you say to such women (the ugly women, the fat women) when they start talking about being entitled to sex with you? Usually that scenario is played for laughs in movies — the fat woman throwing herself at men, grabbing on them, etc.

  30. Pingback: Noli Irritare Leones » Blog Archive » On John Stuart Mill’s view of rights, and on owing someone the possibility of sex

  31. Frannie says:

    Thanks, Blitzgirl, for your input about the way men treat women they don’t find attractive. Being treated as invisible is the better part. The worse part is blatant insults (loud enough to hear), groups of young men turning you into their shared joke, and being treated as less than human while the prettier women are worshipped.
    Worst of all are the homely, overweight (or traditionally unattractive) men who still feel entitled to a beauty queen. I don’t know any plain-looking women who are holding out for a handsome man (or a rich man, for those who see all women as golddiggers). Why don’t men want to admit that the reason they spend many nights alone is that sense of entitlement to young
    and beautiful women?

  32. elementary_watson says:

    Why don’t men want to admit that the reason they spend many nights alone is that sense of entitlement to young and beautiful women?

    I don’t think it is that easy, Frannie. Look, for example, at politicalguineapig in the “Fat Girls” thread, who would consider any man who expresses interest in her to be a lying scumbag. Maybe unattractive women are as yearning for a romantic/sexual relationship as these lonely men you write about, but, in my experience, quite a few are very suspicious of men who are interested in them.

    An unattractive woman (or a woman who thinks herself to be unattractive) might think the man is just in it for the sex and thinks she must be too desperate to turn down his offer, or that it is a setup before the ultimate humiliation. I understand where that thinking comes from (i.e. the behaviour you describe in the first paragraph), and I do not *blame* these women for having these suspicions; my point is that being unattractive doesn’t mean a woman is more likely to accepts suitors, sometimes it’s the opposite.

  33. aleknovy says:

    I think a much better way of deconstructing anti-male feminist “arguments” is by substitution “men” for say “blacks” or “latinos”.

    In fact, take most criticisms of “nice guys”, “shy guys”, “introverts”, and replace them with say “mexicans”,and all of a sudden the criticism sounds like something coming out of a white-supremacists website. Let me give you an example.

    A man: I feel unjustly treated harshly by women. For example, I’ll ask a woman for directions, not because I’m hitting on her, but because I am lost. She will roll her eyes at me, and tell me to go fu*k myself.

    Hugo/Feminists: You entitled prick! You’re not entitled to being treated nice. You don’t have a right to be assumed to be a good person. She has every right to assume you have sinister motives and you’re not OWED to be treated neutrally.

    NOW —> substitute man with “mexican man”

    A mexican man: I feel unjustly treated harshly by white. For example, I’ll ask a white person for directions, not because I’m trying to rob them, but because I am lost. This white person will roll their eyes at me, and tell me to go fu*k myself.

    Hugo/Feminists: You entitled prick! You’re not entitled to being treated nice. You don’t have a right to be assumed to be a good person. She has every right to assume you have sinister motives and you’re not OWED to be treated neutrally.

    Notice… How in the second example its racism? And no, this isn’t a “white guy” rant, because this happens to men of every ethnicity. If a black man complains that black women treat him like crap, he is told he has no RIGHT to expect a respectful treatment… So its the “men” part that suddenly makes hate and basic human respect no longer something you need to expect.

  34. Lynet says:

    Actually, if I take the statement that you put in the man’s mouth, and make it about Mexicans rather than about women, it sounds pretty creepy, too:

    “I feel unjustly treated harshly by [Mexicans]. For example, I’ll ask a [Mexican] for directions, not because I’m hitting on her, but because I am lost. She will roll her eyes at me, and tell me to go fu*k myself.”

    Rather than making weird racial analogies, why don’t we just agree that telling someone to go fuck themselves when they’ve just asked for directions is very rude, and that if you really feel unsafe talking to someone, “Sorry, I’m in a hurry” would probably do. On the other hand, if someone does react that way to such a small thing, clearly they have been through something pretty painful in the past; avoidance and pity both seem like natural reactions.

  35. aleknovy says:

    Rather than making weird racial analogies, why don’t we just agree that telling someone to go fuck themselves when they’ve just asked for directions is very rude,

    Because Lynet… The feminists insist that there’s nothing inherently wrong about treating strangers like shit.

    You have to take their own words, and PAINT how they’re only saying that because the topic is “men”. Only when you take their own words and replace men with any other group… It becomes hate-speech.

    Go to the femisphere and simply say “oh, can’t we just agree that its wrong to tell random people to go fuck themselves?” – see how far it gets you.

    On the other hand, if someone does react that way to such a small thing, clearly they have been through something pretty painful in the past; avoidance and pity both seem like natural reactions.

    Would you be making the same excuses for a white person who mistreats black people? That its probably a “natural reaction” to a “pretty painful past”? Of course not.

  36. aleknovy says:

    So, you chastise her for speaking for other people then go on to say what the majority of women expect “at all levels.”

    Yep. He’s saying that women lie. He chastized her for lying, not for “speaking for other people”. He chastized her for saying “women want x”, when his experience and of every men he’s ever met is that women lie about wanting x.

    Even experiments demonstrate this discrepancy between what women say they want, and what they really want.

    What frustrates me the most about these types of discussions is that they tend to make blanket statements about all women when in actuality they are only talking about a specific subsection of women — namely, the traditionally attractive women that they themselves desire.

    80% of women are not a “subsection”. Its not just the angelina jolies who act this way… Its really any woman who’s sexually attractive to men.

    And men are attracted to most women (not just the angelina jolies of the world). Its the women who are not attractive that are the subset (obese women, women who had the misfortune of being born with some really weird shape or skin etc…)

    Women who are not traditionally attractive go through the same sexual isolation that you do. We are invisible to men when we walk down the street. We are never asked out.

    The difference is… Most of these women can change that overnight, by simply doing one simple thing – smiling.

    Even most of the “unattractive women” start getting hit on and asked out if they appear approachable, start smiling and looking at guys with a smile. Even an ugly woman walking down the street with a big open smile will start getting chatted up.

  37. aleknovy says:

    Miguel what makes you certain that the young women that were willing to have sex with a professor might not also be willing to have sex with a 19 year old virgin?

    He never said its impossible. The thing is its unlikely.

    What makes you certain that most young men would not have sex with Rosie O’Donell?

    Its the same thing. The fact that some man might, does not cancel out the fact that most women heavily discriminate against inexperienced men.

  38. aleknovy says:

    Thanks, Blitzgirl, for your input about the way men treat women they don’t find attractive. Being treated as invisible is the better part.

    Welcome to a man’s world!! “Being treated as invisible”? Now you know how men feel! A woman needs to be ugly/obese to be “invisible”.

    A man needs to be, well… a man 😀 A woman’s default is “being seen, admired”. A man’s default is “being invisible, shunned”.

    A man has to go WAY above average to be seen and lose the invisibility.
    A woman has to go below-average to become invisible.

    And even then, she’s only invisible to “hot guys”, she’s not invisible to the guys at the bottom. These women who complain about being invisible? They’re only invisible to guys on the top. These same women reject “losers” just as much.

    Check dis out!
    http://aleknovy.com/2009/11/04/the-hierarchy-most-men-are-at-the-bottom/

  39. Lynet says:

    Feminists think that if you’re afraid for your safety, then worrying about being rude should not be the first thing on your mind. Which I agree with. If you’ve got a choice between being rude and staying in a situation where you don’t feel safe, or a choice between being rude and sacrificing some of your personal boundaries, go with being rude.

    For example, don’t agree to date a guy out of politeness. Don’t be too polite to show him the door when he’s at your house and you’re ready to sleep, and don’t want to sleep with him. If he refuses to leave, don’t worry that insistence is impolite. If a man tries to physically restrain you, don’t let politeness stop you from trying to kick him in the balls. These are all sensible statements.

  40. aleknovy says:

    Feminists think that if you’re afraid for your safety, then worrying about being rude should not be the first thing on your mind.

    Would they say that that about a white person assuming every black person is out to mug them?

    For example, don’t agree to date a guy out of politeness. Don’t be too polite to show him the door when he’s at your house and you’re ready to sleep, and don’t want to sleep with him. If he refuses to leave, don’t worry that insistence is impolite. If a man tries to physically restrain you, don’t let politeness stop you from trying to kick him in the balls. These are all sensible statements.

    Yeah… But no sane person would dispute or disagree with the example you’re giving.

    The trouble is…

    – Men live in a world where they’re constantly mocked, humiliated and treated like pieces of dung in everyday interactions
    – Feminists then try to justify/rationalize that treatment by taking about situations where men are JUSTIFIABLY mistreated

    Of COURSE if a man refuses to leave your place after telling him 5 times then you have justifiably every right to be rude (duh?).

    How is that related to our topic? Is this some kind of a transference? I sense that it is. Because an arrogant asshole kept trying to kiss me despite me saying no on thursday, today I will be rude to this guy who’s merely being friendly to their neighbor.

  41. Lynet says:

    It looks like we agree on a lot. We agree that it’s rude to respond to a request for directions with “fuck off”, and we agree that if some guy refuses to leave your place after you’ve politely asked him to, you shouldn’t be so worried about being rude at that point. So we’re basically just arguing points in the middle here.

    How about, baseline:

    Don’t feel rude about asking someone to leave you alone, directly, provided you do it in a polite tone of voice, and,

    Do always make at least one of your requests a polite one, so that you’re not blowing up at people who don’t deserve it.

    Sound reasonable?

  42. AlekNovy says:

    How about, baseline:

    Don’t feel rude about asking someone to leave you alone, directly, provided you do it in a polite tone of voice, and,

    Do always make at least one of your requests a polite one, so that you’re not blowing up at people who don’t deserve it.

    Sound reasonable?

    Here’s the thing though… A lot of the women who blow up at random men believe the communicated nicely a few times before the blow.

    How? Well, they believe that hinting is the same as communicating.

    So, saying something like “booooy, it sure is getting late” in passing, or “man, I’m gonna be sooo late for work tommorow, heh”. -> doesn’t cut it.

    Men don’t read subtle or between the lines. Even though a lot of women blow up at man without any previous warning. Even more blow up at men for having not read cryptic hints.

  43. Lynet says:

    I suspect that the first half would reduce the risk of that 🙂 People hint because they feel like saying it directly is rude already, and then they get frustrated when they have to say it directly and end up being very rude. Telling people that saying something both directly and politely is an option makes them less likely to think that they’re being forced to be rude as soon as they have to say a thing directly.

  44. B405 says:

    “You will still talk to loads and loads of women in your lives, some of whom will be both attractive and attracted to you”

    What a joke!

  45. existenceisrelative says:

    I take issue with the automatic equation between a mans positive personal estimation of self-worth and a rapist. It’s more of the feminist implication that men are almost a form of wild animal. And if women don’t judiciously emotionally abuse men they’ll lapse into their “natural rape mode”. As if the only difference between any man on the street and a rapist is the realization that their sexuality isn’t something monstrous and terrible. It happens in any and every discussion about human sexuality. Anything involving the male sex drive becomes rape. Any male sexuality gets lumped into the same implication that if you have any decent amount of self esteem you’ll get uncontrollably locked into an internal “elseif” loop resulting in rape. Rapes happen and I’ve seen their aftermath firsthand several times. But that doesn’t mean that I’m about to accept the implication that I can’t feel like I deserve happiness based solely on their existence and the genitals I was born with. 57% of child abuse is perpetrated by women. Yet if I were to bring this up in every conversation of mothers and parents in general it would be absurd. There are mothers that don’t abuse the children left in their care. The majority I would venture. So why would it seem such a stretch to you that there are self assured men that aren’t rapists?

  46. Lynet says:

    I’m not sure why you’re interpreting me that way. As I said, it’s healthy to believe that you are worthy of a sexual relationship. If it needs clarification, I will add that believing that you are worthy of a sexual relationship will not turn you into a rapist.

    I really did mean all those ‘and’ clauses: “and that women were being brutal by not giving [sex] to him, and that women would only [have sex with] him if he was aggressive…”

    Put all of that together, and it starts to imply that women shouldn’t refuse, because that’s brutal of them, and that you shouldn’t accept when a woman refuses, because you have to be aggressive. That is a problem. But believing that your sexuality isn’t a bad thing of itself, and that you’re worthy of sexual fulfillment, even if you haven’t found it yet? Sure! Very healthy.

  47. AnonymousDog says:

    Amen.

    *I* am not “entitled” to a sexual relationship. But the same thing is true of all other individuals in the world, and the empirical evidence shows that many of them do have sexual relationships. *I* can infer from that empirical evidence that there is a good chance that *I*, too, could find someone with which to have a sexual relationship.

    *I* am “entitled” to search and make appropriate inquiries for that person(s)
    with which to have a sexual relationship.

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