Friday, January 09, 2004

No Doesn't Mean No?

Atrios links to two worried men's articles on the question of proving that rape has taken place.
The National Review's James Bowman pines for the old days when:

Pre-feminist common sense suggested that a woman who comes alone to a man's hotel room late at night has already consented to sex with him.

and Gregg Estabrook is similarly concerned about how to interpret women's fuzzy signals of sexual willingness or not:

Because men know this--because in the real world "no" does not always mean no--speaking the word "no" is not the ideal way to communicate to a man that what is happening has changed from persuasion, or pressure, to compulsion. Men not only want sex, the male mindset holds that overcoming the woman's "no" is part of manliness. Few men will rape if that's what they think they are doing. Many try to push past "no" and tell themselves that what they are doing is manly persuasion of the naturally hesitant female. "Had we but world enough, and time/this coyness, lady, were no crime:" Andrew Marvel, circa 1650.
There has to be a better way than the word "no" to communicate to the man that he has crossed the line, and that better way must be widely agreed upon. Here's my proposal: If the line is crossed, women should say, "This is rape!"

So in the real world "no" does not always mean no, according to these gentlemen. Where does it then? According to Bowman, this place is the courts:

No means no — even though no one else hears it, even though everyone knows that it may mean yes — because feminists want to reserve to women the right and freedom to be indiscrete (sic).

What's a guy to do (Bowman and Estabrook seem to say)? It's manly to push past the 'no', but then you get sued for rape. Those darned feminists have really spoiled the sexual games, haven't they?

My suggestion for these two: Accept the 'no' for a no. Then if she really didn't mean it, she'll be the one missing all the goodies and won't make the same mistake again. In fact, she might be the one cajoling you next time, trying to forcibly push past your nos. And you didn't rape anybody by accident.

Otherwise I quite like Bowman's idea about the prefeminist rules: Anyone entering my hotel room has consented to sex with me! Room service waiters, cleaning staff, people I've invited in for a business meeting. Yeah! Life is sweet for us goddesses....