© 2003-2006 David Moles
Moderation in all things: Liveblogging the sex panel
9 o'clock, May 28, 2005
I wasn’t going to do this, but I just want to note that we’re fifteen minutes into this panel and the alleged moderator is still talking. The other panelists have been allowed to say, literally, no more than their names. Ah, moderation.
Update: 10:20. Still talking.
Update: 10:27 — Okay, Ben’s getting to talk now.
Update: 10:35— I wish I could type half as fast as Ben can talk. At least I can capture this book recommendation: Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys, Dan Kindlon & Michael Thompson.
“Even inside feminist discourse, there’s often this thing about protecting women — this baseline idea that women are fragile. It’s interesting to me that it’s a relatively radical thing to talk about men being fragile.”
Update: 10:37 — Ian’s turn: “I have never actually seen ‘friends with benefits’ lumped with domestic violence before.” “Whenever I run across things like ‘all X are Y’ I start to itch.” “I’m a member of the SM community in Seattle, I see a lot of things that are really concerning, I talk to the people involved and they’ve negotiated whatever they need to negotiate . . . in that community, the idea of consent is really important — if you’re doing something and the neighbors call the cops, and you need to explain something, you really need to have that stuff worked out ahead of time.” “Men, taken as a group, act violently towards everybody — of course, as a person of color, I think white people, taken as a group, act violently towards everybody.” “I certainly think that boys and men are a good place to start in terms of avoiding rape . . . [But] I don’t think that useful, nuanced conversations about privilege can happen while only talking about one privilege at a time.”
Update: 10:46 — Joe is channeling Anne Harris, suggesting talking about the cultural construction of maleness. “One of the ways I think of my work is translating radical feminism to males.” “How do we teach that explicit consent is hot, and not ‘not hot.’”
Update: 10:47 — Mary Anne: “I’m interested in the next generation of the problem. I’ve mostly dated sensitive New Age guys. They’re really well trained, they’re inculcated with this. They’re really paranoid, really scared that anything they might do that’s the least bit pushy might be rape, or lead to rape . . . I’d like to hear the panel address that, and also, this question of . . . it feels to me like feminism has appropriated a lot of the traditional male virtues, such as strength, the ability to take care of yourself, the ability to take care of others. I think that’s great. But at the same time I wonder what men are left with. How are the sensitive new age guys defining themselves, how do they navigate that?”
Ben: “Going from a perspective of ‘what’s to work on?’ to this perfect prince — and how frustrating this was for her — how my inability to stand up for myself is what led to the end of the relationship . . . This story’s also the story of a series of women taking me in hand and going, um, no . . . Okay, I need to make people do what I want . . . then you renounce that power, and you’re left with no power, and that's not really very interesting for anybody . . . It has a lot to do with trusting the power of the other person, that I need to be neither dominant nor protective . . . that I didn't need to give in just because I needed to be gallant.”
Mary Anne: “The problem with gallant is that it assumes power in the same way.”
Ian: “The standard sort of redneck white guy response to feminism: They’re taking my power away — is correct. That’s something that needs to be kept in the forefront — there needs to be a conversation about empowerment rather than over-powerment. Without that, there’s not going to be buy-in . . . there’s not going to be movement, or there’s only going to be movement among us sensitive new age guys . . . or those of us who like getting laid enough to hang out where women are empowered enough that we can get laid a lot . . . . In order to be empowered, people need to be able to say yes and they need to be able to say no. ‘Not right now’ can mean not right now, and not never . . . it can mean ‘Ask me later’ and not ‘Not you, not ever.’ Freedom is the ability to choose, and anything less isn’t the world I want to live in.”
Joe: “Nice guys haven’t reproduced . . . The boys in the world I go into do not see options for masculinity.”
Update: 11:03 — Ben: There’s an easy heuristic to tell if you’re asking in a way that people can say no — they sometimes say no.
Ian: “Men are expected to make the first move . . . and that’s a power disadvantage. I never make the first move, and that's a stance I’ve taken — of course it helps that I’m good looking. I don’t know if my standard would work for everybody. For most people . . . the real situation is, if I want to get laid, I have to make the first move, I have to risk rejection — and everybody really likes to risk rejection. . . . Feelings are facts. Remedial sex education problematizes anger. Sometimes anger is a problem, somtimes anger means someone has violated your boundaries. It’s not always a case of ‘I feel afraid, but I can’t feel afraid, because I’m a boy, I have to feel angry because anger is a safe emotion.’”
Ben: “There’s this thing, whether it’s cultural or biological, boys like things to be loud and fast and go boom . . . There’s a distinction between two kinds of violence, and they're conflated. As a kid, I was never very violent . . . then as an adult I started playing rugby, and I really liked hitting people . . . you really need to distinguish between violence ‘overriding someone’s boundaries without consent’ and the dictionary definition . . . you look at the dictionary definition of violence and a lot of it’s about being loud and sudden.”
Ian: “There need to be many models — there needs to be a continutity of models.”
Ben: “It’s interesting that women can talk much more easily about whether and when and how they like or don’t like sex. With men . . . if you’re not able to say no to something, you’re not really able to say yes either. There’s so much at stake for men. Men’s attention is often not so much on having sex as on having done her.”
Update: 11:20 — Audience member: “It is much harder to take hold of someone’s hand than it is to make a pass at them.”