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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Gender Issues » how common is this? (question about gender roles, I think...)

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Author Topic: how common is this? (question about gender roles, I think...)
000
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So it is not uncommon for people to make comments about how guys don't need to find someone attractive to want to have sex with them. But then it's also not uncommon for me to find real people who behave in the opposite (guys who seem to only want to have sex with people if they found them attractive).

How common do you think it is for boys or men to want to/to have sex with people they don't think are attractive, really? (thinking someone is attractive and then changing your mind doesn't count)

(I guess this brings up questions of what is this whole phenomenon really all about, anyway? Like is it the idea that men will never say 'no' to sex? Is it b/c some men are afraid to find anything attractive that's not what culture tells him is supposed to be attractive?)

[ 12-13-2006, 07:19 PM: Message edited by: iheartdc ]

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Heather
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Why is this question just about guys or men?

I ask because if you haven't also met or heard of women who also do or seem to make physical attraction or appearance primary or even exclusive, then you're simply only seeing this in one group, when it's something people of all genders can be prone to.

(I really have to say that even if this were NOT something that's not exclusive to one gender, I have a big problem with ruminating about any large, large group of people in a small way, if you follow, especially since the anecdotal tendsw to often be particularly inaccurate and limited with topics this broad and loaded. To boot, it strikes me as particularly unhelpful in a community like this one where most of the ruminators would be women, anyway.)

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000
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well, that's part of the reason why I was asking how common it was...

because I have /not/ really met women who talk about acting this way. maybe I have met some, but very, very few.

I was asking how common it was among men. Not saying all men act that way.

[ 12-13-2006, 09:01 PM: Message edited by: iheartdc ]

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Heather
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I can't think of a study offhand that has been done on this particular subject per this particular sex. However, it's basically been shown that for most people of all sexes and genders, feeling attracted to someone -- and having that be physical and/or visual -- is generally an element that varies in degrees amoung most people. When you ask something like this, one tricky bit is not very specifically defining "find attractive," because attraction is SO multidimensional (even when some folks priroitize one aspect), because all in all, those who feel desire for sex with those they do not feel attracted to in some respect is certainly a rarity.

But if you're interested in some works that cover arenas like this and are related to this in terms of men -- and specifically western men -- and the basis of sexual attraction and how it is experienced and fuels sexual desire, I'd suggest "The Erotic Mind" by Dr. Jack Morin, Shere Hite's male sexuality report, "The New Male Sexuality," and the male Kinsey studies as good backbones to start with. There's a great anthology written by a large and varied number of men on their sexuality and sexual experiences that I lent out some time back and right now cannot remember the name of to save my life: if I think of it and you want more reading, I'll ping back when I have a second to dig.

In a word, this is a way bigger question than I think you realize you're asking, and not one that even someone like myself who has all these studies on a shelf to the left of her could answer. Even if I just piled up a bunch of books like those and filed through them to try and draw some conclusions, again, it's SUCH a broad question and, to boot, there are so many outside influences and personal variances that there's just no way I'd feel confident in or capable of making the kind of generalization required to answer what I think you're asking.

(However, I really don't think it's a question of gender roles unless you're asking perhaps why it is that it seems that men may be more comfortable admitting or pursuing sexual desire based on chemical or phycial attraction -- rather than, say, how nice or kind someone is, or how much someone cares for them -- than you've observed women to be, in which case you likely already have a good idea about the answer. [Smile] )

[ 12-13-2006, 10:03 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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000
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well, I realize "attraction" means different things to different people, so in that sense this could get quite complicated. But when I hear guys (i.e. my dad, my cousin, other random guys) make reference to guys having sex with people they're not attracted to, I think they mean not attracted .period. (I realize this is offensive, but maybe a way to describe it would be like using a woman for a complicated form of masturbation.) I /do/ hear men make generalities about how men will have sex for the sake of having sex, even w/ people who kind of disgust them (whether it be morally or physically), etc.

On the other hand, I know men who do not like the idea of having sex with a woman unless they find her particularly attractive (physically, emotionally, etc.) And I've just not heard women make casual reference to having sex with people they were disgusted by or looked down on, on any level. Usually attraction (either physically or emotionally) is involved.

Not that this is an ego thing for me personally (okay, maybe slightly) but I've always had this question, about how if someone is willing to have sex with you, does that mean they find you attractive? (not 'do they /care/ about you' or anything, just 'do they find you sexually attractive on some level (as opposed to having neutral feelings and seeing you as a toy, or whatever)'?) Because according to generalities the men (usually older men) I've been around make, one would think a male wanting to have sex with someone means absolutely nothing about how much he likes that person (again, physically /or/ emotionally). And then of course, they say we /all/ get less picky with alcohol. (Can't say this is true for me personally, but maybe for some people it is?)

Where this affects me personally, is maybe just the fact that, (and maybe this is me being immature) but I kind of care about more people thinking me physically attractive than having deep feelings for me. (I mean, a lot of people don't have deep feelings for someone until you've known them for a long time, anyway) So when someone asks me out, I'd like to be flattered, but b/c of generalities people make about men and attraction, I'm not sure if I can assume they ask me out b/c of anything much individual to me or not. And then there is also like "the touring musician incident" which got me thinking about this whole thing some also.

Does that make things less complicated, at all, on some level?

I think the way I'm attracted to other people may be a little atypical too, so that may make it harder for me to understand concepts involving varying attraction. With most people I'm either rabidly attracted or I'd have little interest in being physically involved. If I'm very attracted, that attraction will continue even if I see the person make an arse out of themself and what-not. With people I'm not attracted to, that isn't really going to change over time either. And then the person who is for me like "sorta attractive, somewhat, maybe I'll ask them out and see what happens" is a rarity.

[ 12-13-2006, 11:43 PM: Message edited by: iheartdc ]

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Dude_who_writes
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So, essentially, this question boils down to physical attraction, rather than the other dimensions of attraction that we've mentioned. But, I'd have to say again, though, that this is far too broad a question to apply to the complex dynamic of even just physical attraction. And, in some cases, I'd have to wonder how honest the men in the given situations. The ego can be a very delicate thing, and a in a lot of cases, that is dependent upon appearances and the perception of how our peers view us.

So, for instance, if a given person (and I stress that word, because this can apply across the board -- in what ratios, it would be hard to pin down) slept with someone who wasn't necessarily conventionally attractive, or even they had the fear that they would receive negative feedback from their piers, they might try to cover for said attraction by making statements like, "Oh, I just did it for the sex," as a way to "excuse" the "behavior." (Not that there need be any excuse, but that's another long-winded rant for another day. [Smile] )

Even as a male, I can't sleep with someone that I don't find attractive on at least one level. And, physical attraction is important. But, personality -- the way that they express themselves, their voice, their intelligence, their humor, with, etc -- along with other, less-instantly noticeable physical attributes are things that I will tend to notice over time. And I have encountered people that I had not initially found attractive (physically) but later developed serious crushes upon.

And, based upon what I've read and experienced in these short 22 years, that's a pretty common approach. So, I'd have to assume that it is much more rare to be able to couple with someone you have ZERO attraction to in a sexual way.

And, not to be a bore, but it's also not the healthiest route to validate your own self-worth through other's view and attraction of you. If someone expresses an interest in you, then yes, chances are for the better that they are at least somewhat physically attracted to you. But, the problem with that is that it's a lot more fleeting than actually finding yourself attractive and just all-in-all being comfortable in your own skin.

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Djuna
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To over-simplify it completely, say a given guy has feelings for a woman like this:
-sexual attraction out of 10
-personal connection (caring) out of 10
...with 0 not being negative feelings, just indifference.
And say that a combined 16 (or some other arbitrary number) is enough for that guy to want to sleep with that person.
What I'm trying to say is that a guy (or a girl for that matter) might sleep with someone they were really attracted to but didn't care for as deeply, or in contrast equally they might sleep with someone they cared for deeply but weren't strongly attracted to.
I would say that this hypothetical 'number' goes down with alcohol, and of course it changes due to circumstances (end of relationship, etc.)
However, this is a gross simplification. Basically the combination of feelings is what matters.
As I've said before, 0 is indifferent feeling. Most people would never sleep with someone they were repulsed by (rather than just not attracted by).

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Beppie
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Joseph, I know you are aware that this is an over simplification, and I think one of the ways in which this simplification is really ineffective is that it doesn't acknowledge that there can be a correlation between physical attraction and mental attraction. Another, more important one is that a "scoring" system, can, I think be a bit demeaning to all parties involved.

I can only speak for myself of course-- I don't claim to speak for anyone else male or female, but I personally find that my level of physical attraction to a person has a LOT to do with finding them mentally attractive-- I just don't think that the two can be disentangled like that.

Another thing to remember is that scoring out of 10-- even when you acknowledge a simplification-- does, to me, seem to have some element of commodification about it. Even saying it's a simplicification, the implication is just that there will be a more complex "scoring" system that more accurately reflects reality.

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jay_d
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So it is not uncommon for people to make comments about how guys don't need to find someone attractive to want to have sex with them. But then it's also not uncommon for me to find real people who behave in the opposite (guys who seem to only want to have sex with people if they found them attractive).

...it's also not uncommon for nonheterosexual males to grumble the phrase "breeder fish are f'ing rapos," so there's actually a broad and diverse array of social perspectives. While the latter statement is somewhat... unfair... it does underly the deeper truth that not only do a large number of females not meet the gendered stereotype of erotophobic asexuality - some of them don't even take no for an answer.

...that said?

How common do you think it is for boys or men to want to/to have sex with people they don't think are attractive, really? (thinking someone is attractive and then changing your mind doesn't count)

(I guess this brings up questions of what is this whole phenomenon really all about, anyway? Like is it the idea that men will never say 'no' to sex? Is it b/c some men are afraid to find anything attractive that's not what culture tells him is supposed to be attractive?)


I'd say it depends...

...on the one hand, most *people* aren't going to have sex with anything they don't find at least *minimally* attractive - otherwise there wouldn't be such a thing as, say, sexual orientation.

...and in addition to these bare-minimal guidelines, I'm pretty sure *most* people would be even more demanding, and with evolutionary reasons - I don't think someone advertising "free sex!" while in late-stage syphilis or leprosy would get many takers, and there are probably cases in which this was a good thing.

...but then - just to overshoot the mark - if the deus-ex-machina "most attractive person in the world" just walked up and asked me for sex... I'd honestly have to be at least on the level of "friends with benefits."

I'm guessing... for *most* people, honestly, it's a mix. Yes, I'm wierd enough to have thought "whoa, they're pretty hot for a fugly person" and actually *meant* it; I also don't do anything like that for any one (or, thing) whose bodily structures don't at least *minimally* relate to the basics...

...and yet, I'd have to know a person well enough to at least consider them a pretty good friend before I'd be comfortable considering doing anything about finding them attractive should they ask. I'm *pretty* sure it's that way with a *lot* of males - and if you walk up to *any* guy who's outside the "cruising for poontang" circut and (I'm presuming your female from your past posts) come on as strong as you possibly can and barely take no for an answer from this stranger...

...they'll get scared. So much for the "men are objectified to one-dimensional fuqbeasts" stereotype, I'm honestly guessing that they'll get scared and back away the moment the offer really comes from nowhere at all.

...down to very, very close to the last man, in fact. The people who do the "always cruising" thing are a very tiny minority.

Unfortunately, they're also often the most agressive, competitive, and driven - and hence, the most visible and vocal. Most people aren't quite like that.

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000
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"not only do a large number of females not meet the gendered stereotype of erotophobic asexuality - some of them don't even take no for an answer."

Considering it is /far/ more common for men to rape men and men to rape women than for women to rape men, that example seems to me as somehow... unnecessary.

So you people who mention having widely varying levels of attraction to different people, how does that work? If you're attracted on a certain level, you'd get physical with that person, but you have to be even /more/ attracted to want a relationship? Just curious...

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jay_d
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Considering it is /far/ more common for men to rape men and men to rape women than for women to rape men...

As a whole, yes, but that depends a lot on the demographic, as well...

...if you're female, small enough to be easy to drag into the bushes, and have the misfortune to look like someone's mother, well... the classic male-on-female power-reassurance rape is probably your greatest threat.

If you're out-and-proud homosexual in a profoundly homophobic region, homophobic rape is probably the greatest increase in your chances, which usually fits in the demographics you outlined.

However, if you're male, tall, physically fit, and surrounded by females who think - what was that charming quote? - 'that men will never say 'no' to sex?'... well...

...in that case, *most* of your issues with questionable sexual consent will involve being pinned up against a wall with your hand against the agressor's carotid trying to say "no thanks" through a makeout session you're not participating in, and this will happen *several* times in the course of your life.

Thankfully, they usually stop after about the fourth or fifth time... though admittedly, they have to; you're bigger, you're stronger, you have potentially-fatal control over the bloodflow to their brain in a single strike, and they know it. Sadly, they don't stop the first time you ask them to.

...that example seems to me as somehow... unnecessary.

Actually, the fact that you minimized its existance solely on the basis of gender roles probably makes it neccesary... but the fact that the agressors' actions are predicated on the gender roles you espouse, which it also tends to contradict as a universal actuality, makes it somewhat pertinent.

So you people who mention having widely varying levels of attraction to different people, how does that work? If you're attracted on a certain level, you'd get physical with that person, but you have to be even /more/ attracted to want a relationship? Just curious...

Well... ~sigh~ Humans are complex. I'll try to be as clear as I can communicate, but pardon me if I don't do so well...

Seeing as, while I support stranger-sex but don't engage in it, I'll assume everyone we're talking about is at least a casual friend...

So...

...basically, the decision to ask if someone was interested in casual sex tends to rely on two things... how comfortable I am with that person, and, well, how attractive they are. If I don't consider them at least signifigantly attractive, I probably wouldn't even bother to ask, though I might even be actively pleased to accept if *they* asked... wierd, but there's a little vulnerability in asking the question, so people I'd consider myself *very* lucky to have a 'with benefits' relationship with, I'm unlikely to ask unless they're drop-dead out-of-my-league gorgeous because of the small margin of emotional risk...

...of course, if I don't feel *physically* safe with the person, I'm *not* asking no matter *what* they look like and am pretty certainly saying 'no' if they ask; if I don't feel *emotionally* safe and comfortable, I'm not asking, and *probably* saying no if they ask.

...as far as a relationship goes - I'm presuming you're talking a formal official Relationship(tm-patent pending) with all the associate, well, association, bonding, that sort of thing...

I don't go looking for them at *all* - figure it's sort of useless at best, and figure it's a quick path to failure to *try* to create such an intricate set of intangible circumstances... and just sort of notice in a pleased fashion when one of the relationships in my life (lower-case "r," here) happens to seem that much more fulfilling, so...

...actually, truth be told, I'd be a *lot* less interested or concerned with physical attractiveness in a Relationship. I already feel physically safe and emotionally comfortable by the time I'm noticing such things, suddenly have a lot of reasons to not at all mind being physically close, and charming reasons to think that watching them drift in and out of sleep with half-glazed eyes and a really big grin would be kinda... cute, actually, and very emotionally satisfying...

So... to factor out the small emotional cost of asking someone if they want to have sex... I guess the answer to your question is that someone would have to be slightly attractive for me to want to have sex with them, but a lot *less* attractive to enjoy a relationship with them in a physical sense... to about the very-minimal level of "absence of oozing deformity."

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JamsessionVT
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I have to respectfully pick on a few bones, here, jay_d.

...if you're female, small enough to be easy to drag into the bushes, and have the misfortune to look like someone's mother, well... the classic male-on-female power-reassurance rape is probably your greatest threat.

What you've described here, though, ISN'T the normative rape situation. There are far more cases of women being raped or sexually coerced by someone they know and/or trust than a random hit and run. Given, they do happen, but they are certainly not the norm as far as rape cases go.

I understand where you are coming from as far as demographics go, but honestly, we might as well throw them out the window. Have there been cases of female sexual violence towards men? Yes. We can't deny that. But that number is a whole heck of a lot smaller, by a long shot, than the number of male sexual violence cases towards women. Demographics may play a very small part in that, but it isn't going to change the fact that there are far more acts of sexual violence towards women by men than vica versa.

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jay_d
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What you've described here, though, ISN'T the normative rape situation. There are far more cases of women being raped or sexually coerced by someone they know and/or trust than a random hit and run. Given, they do happen, but they are certainly not the norm as far as rape cases go.

You're right; I just picked a random psychological profile from among the serial rapist and used it, which is not quite the normative case...

Have there been cases of female sexual violence towards men? Yes. We can't deny that. But that number is a whole heck of a lot smaller, by a long shot, than the number of male sexual violence cases towards women.

I'm honestly not sure you're correct. I'm fairly certain it gets reported a lot less, not in the least because getting known as not always wanting heterosexual sex can get a person marked as homosexual and assaulted, regardless of actual orientation...

...but I also know that if one is a male who isn't too terribly interested in heterosexual sex, it will happen a *lot* in the course of one's life. More? Less? I don't know...

...but I'm not sure I can believe "a lot less;" multiplication alone would imply a world which is almost incredibly ludicrous.

Of course, things might be made somewhat different if one presume that the majority of heterosexual males avoid rape by saying yes, I suppose; this could slant the numbers moderately... and possibly lead to a finding similar to your statement...

...but I can promise you that it does not happen as infrequently as you seem to think it does, honestly. It doesn't get talked about much... but it's pretty common.

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wobblyheadedjane
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If you're going anecdotally, then it may be common to you, but bear in mind anecdotal experiences do not always accurately represent wide trends. Most sexual assault stats pages, where they mention females as the attackers, say that this is the rare case; men are the instigators of sexual assault on both males and females the majority of the time (see: Rainn.org; promotetruth.org for stats on this; also Heather's excellent thread here) So while it may be immediately true that it happens more often in your community, overall it's far more true that males are the attackers in sexual assault cases and not females.

ETA: to assert that regardless of the gender of their attackers, it is universally common for men to report less, out of fear or shame.

[ 12-17-2006, 01:18 AM: Message edited by: wobblyheadedjane ]

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Heather
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quote:
...in that case, *most* of your issues with questionable sexual consent will involve being pinned up against a wall with your hand against the agressor's carotid trying to say "no thanks" through a makeout session you're not participating in, and this will happen *several* times in the course of your life.

Perhaps to give you a basis for comparison just between two people?

Based on NOTHING but my personal experience in my own life alone, allow me some bluntness. I was molested -- as is, felt up on my breasts and genitals by an older man -- at 11, gang-raped -- genital sexual assault -- at 12, and date raped -- orally, in both cases at 17 and 26 all by men. I number these incidents as rapes/assaults, which totals four+, which is not a low figure, even for a woman (and yes, a "small" woman) in our world (though not out of the ordinary for someone first sexually assualted early in life, either).

If I were to include as rape/sexual assault the type of incident you are describing above, I could easily add around 20 plus incidents to that roster, by mostly men, maybe two women, when I have spent my life in very mixed sexual community (as if that matters, really: see below). That number WOULD be unusually high per assult, statistically-speaking.

But given my experiences, *I* would hardly be comfortable numbering those amoung those four sexual assaults I have first listed, because experientially - per my experience and processing of them -- they were absoliutely very, very different things, however much nonconsent/disinterest was a common thread in all; however much none of any of them was pleasant or wanted.

By all means, lack of reporting is a very, very real issue, for people of all genders, and per the data I have seen, is somwhat more of a problem for men, but not anything close to exponentially so, so I'm NOT comfortable saying a "lot" less, especially considering the incredible lack of reporting that happens just amoung female victims. Less? Sure. A lot? Eh.

And:
quote:
but I also know that if one is a male who isn't too terribly interested in heterosexual sex, it will happen a *lot* in the course of one's life. More? Less? I don't know...

I'm not too sure what you even mean by this, because when we're talking about sexual assault, what a victim is or is not interested in sexually is a total non-issue (and I haven't seen any data which suggests that being in social atmospheres which are laregly any given orientation make a difference: more than anything, if one is going to generalize, the only sound -- albeit sad as hell -- genaralization it seems one can make is "where men are.").

A victim's own interests or orientation have little to nothing to do with what an attacker does to them or how they are chosen by an attacker.

[ 12-17-2006, 01:54 AM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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jay_d
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I'm not too sure what you even mean by this, because when we're talking about sexual assault, what a victim is or is not interested in sexually is a total non-issue. A victim's interests or orientation have little to nothing to do with what an attacker does to them or how they are chosen by an attacker.

Yeah, the thread's a little convoluted to follow back...

The roots in DC's assertion in her original post that men can't be raped because they never say no to sex as a category - an assertion which, in the real world, is often coupled with feeling that one doesn't have to pay attention if they say no, as well as a tendancy to assume rather than ask.

I... have no idea whether str8 folk tend to internalize this, so I just abandoned the field. Naturally, any str8 male who didn't internalize the gender pressure of sexual accquiescence would be in a similar situation.

If I were to include as rape/sexual assault the type of incident you are describing above, I could easily add around 20 plus incidents to that roster, by mostly men, maybe one woman. That number WOULD be pretty high, statistically.

But given my experiences, I would hardly be comfortable numbering those amoung those four sexual assaults I have first listed, because experientally, they were absoliutely very, very different things, however much nonconsent was an issue throughout.


Really?

I set the threshold for consideration as those situations where I would have literally had to kill or severely injure the person to be able to escape. Personally, while it had less impact in clinical depression than severely nonconsensual molestation in childhood (as far as I can tell; it wasn't a standalone) - it's been basically the *only* thing keeping me from feeling physically safe in situations where it might be likely.

...so I guess we respond differently.

Posts: 54 | From: Cyberspace | Registered: Dec 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
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quote:
The roots in DC's assertion in her original post that men can't be raped because they never say no to sex as a category - an assertion which, in the real world, is often coupled with feeling that one doesn't have to pay attention if they say no, as well as a tendancy to assume rather than ask.
Which is, I agree -- if that IS what she was asserting -- a really unsound assetion. But I don't think she WAS saying that.

And yes, per the latter, really. And some of that is perhaps the difference in the way men and women are socialized in the most general way, if you give it some thought. If you can perhaps comprehend even trying, as an 11 or 12 year-old girl the idea that one COULD even attempt to injure or kill anyone at all, let alone men older than you? Or that, for instance, what was happening to you, what others were doing to you, was obviously not something you deserved/were made for... killing or injuring rarely even enters into the equation as an idea. Especially for girls: and that's personal and professional experience talking.

(Also, one's neck hurting a little the next day, maybe, feeling a little vulnerable compared to other locales bleeding for days or weeks while you fret about being pregnant or having syphilis getting in trouble for "letting" men rape you or never being able to have sex as an adult or the whole world calling you a slut and a whore until the end of time because that's what happens to raped girls? Kind of a different matter. That said, I'm at the end of my personal comfort zone with this arena on a personal level here on the boards, so I'd rather expempt myself from more on this and/or shift the conversation back towards where iheartdc was going.)

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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