Please Don’t Try Again Later
TW for Sexual Assault & Sexual Coercion
If you haven’t yet heard, Kickstarter was used as a platform to launch a so-called “seduction guide.” Not long before the Kickstarter ended (and funded well above and beyond its goal, to boot) some of us started to notice that there was something very, very wrong with what was being said by the author of the work. The feminist blogosphere blew up with posts on the matter and outrage pervaded, especially as the project ended. While the calls to Kickstarter to cancel the project were not heeded in time to prevent the project from funding, Kickstarter issued one heck of an apology.
The book is happening, which is what the author and his defenders want, but Kickstarter made steps towards bettering itself as a platform, which is what the pro-consent side wants. As an added bonus, he’s working with anti-rape orgs to ensure that his book is less rape-y than his posts made it sound. That’s that, right?
Apparently, the idea of grabbing someone’s hand and placing them to your genitals is perfectly okay “in context.” Furthermore, some people started to defend him against charges of writing a rape manual thanks to this gem:
If at any point a girl wants you to stop, she will let you know. If she says “STOP,” or “GET AWAY FROM ME,” or shoves you away, you know she is not interested. It happens. Stop escalating immediately and say this line:
“No problem. I don’t want you to do anything you aren’t comfortable with.”
Memorize that line. It is your go-to when faced with resistance. Say it genuinely, without presumption. All master seducers are also masters at making women feel comfortable. You’ll be no different. If a woman isn’t comfortable, take a break and try again later.
All that matters is that you continue to try to escalate physically until she makes it genuinely clear that it’s not happening. She wants to be desired, but the circumstances need to be right. With some experience, you will learn to differentiate the “No, we can’t… my parents are in the next room… OMG FUCK ME FUCK ME HARD” from the “SERIOUSLY GET THE FUCK OFF OF ME, YOU CREEP” variety of resistance.
Of course if you’re really unclear, back off. Better safe than sorry.
Hold the fucking phones. This, to me, is way worse than advocating the moving of a hand to a dick (in almost any context), since it’s an obvious ploy. This was someone straight-up advocating trying again after being very clearly rejected, i.e. not leaving someone alone who had just told him to do so. When I talked about how appalling the Kickstarter was, I was most focused on that notion, not the hand-on-dick line. It plays into the woman-as-other narrative that poisons male-female relations and leads to pick-up artistry as a phenomenon on the first place. Women are mysterious bizarre creatures who lie and deceive so men have to figure out formulas and tricks and coercive strategies to make sense of them, dontchaknow.
Except I don’t. What I do know is that enough men don’t take no for an answer that many women I know completely ignore or shut out most men who attempt to make any kind of contact with them because they fear that a “no” or any other kind of resistance will be read as a challenge. Better to give no response, they reason, than any that might be used against them. PuA guides like this one prove their point: any kind of interaction with a man is apparently fair game for him to try all kinds of non-consensual things.
It’s hard to say “yes” to anything at all when you know that a single “yes” you issue can be taken to be a “yes” to anything and everything at all. More frighteningly, it’s hard to say yes when you know that any “no” you issue, even one as dramatic and clear as a “STOP”, “GET AWAY FROM ME,” or a shove, would be taken seriously. That’s the world in which we live and it sucks. It sucks for women and for men. I’d like to imagine we can build a better world than one where straight men and straight women are pitted against each other in some kind of epic battle where one side thinks the other doesn’t want them while the other feels it has to constantly fend off unwanted advances.
So yes, Esther Tung, I did read the actual posts on Reddit. They disgusted and appalled me far more than the hand-on-dick thing. I’m just glad that, despite having so many defenders, this guy is revising his wording and the strategies he advocates. As cliche as it had become now, it bears repeating: yes means yes and no means no.